Minister Macaulay, ladies and gentlemen,
First and foremost, let me thanks the organisers of SIAL for the skill and effort they have poured into making this event such a huge success.
We in the EU delegation are both pleased and proud to be the Region of Honour this year, and we hope that our pavilion gives a real flavour of our unique European food and drink heritage.
Let me also offer my thanks to Minister Macaulay for taking the time to be with us today. Minister Macaulay is a remarkable politician – he is the longest serving federal representative from his home region of Prince Edward Island, an area with a strong Irish and Scottish heritage.
I have also read that he holds the record for attending the most weddings and wakes on the Island, as well as the record for hugging the most people in one day. So I think we can safely say that Minister Macaulay, although his roots are in Scotland, has developed very Irish political skills, which have served him well!
Minister Macaulay also works for a government that has distinguished itself by its positive and enlightened attitude to trade in recent years. This is a time when we see more and more nationalistic and protectionist views expressed by governments around the world. In light of this worrying trend, the enduring commitment of the EU and Canada to free and fair trade shines like a beacon of hope.
As you are aware, I am accompanied on this visit to Canada by a trade delegation of EU agri-food businesses. These 60 representatives from 23 EU member states are active in sectors with large potential in Canada.
Some of them represent very big companies, others come from small enterprises, and they are all here to strengthen business relationships with their Canadian counterparts. This trip is part of the European Union's "diplomatic offensive" to promote our world-class products in international markets.
We want to open new doors for our exports. Europe is the best address in the world for food and beverages, and we are justifiably proud of the culture, heritage and taste of our high quality foods.
In 2016, Europe continued to be a global leader in food and drink, exporting €130bn worth of agri-food produce to global markets, keeping our position as the number one exporter in the world. The growing global middle class loves our food and drink. Our objective during this visit is to promote the quality and diversity of European agricultural products to the Canadian consumer market.
And I'm glad to say we're in the right place at the right time. This is an important moment in bilateral relations between the EU and Canada. I think it's only right and appropriate that we take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate the recent signing of the CETA trade agreement between our two regions.
This is the most ambitious agreement the EU has ever concluded, and the first one we have concluded with a G7 country.
We are strongly confident that CETA and the Special Partnership Agreement will open new doors to trade and to cooperation. And as EU Agriculture Commissioner, I am particularly pleased that agriculture and agri-food trade will be one of the main protagonists in - and beneficiaries of - the agreement.
Let's look at some of the facts: the EU has a surplus in agricultural trade with Canada - around €1.2 billion in 2015 – and it's encouraging to note that this trade has been rather stable over the last decade.
The strength of CETA is that it takes clear account of the export interests of both parties: the top exported EU products to Canada are alcoholic beverages which accounts for around 39% of exports. The main Canadian export is wheat, which accounts for around 32% of exports.
In both cases, CETA will fully liberalise exports of those products. This can only have a positive impact on our exports, which in turn has a positive knock-on effect for growth and job creation – often in the rural areas where this is most needed.
There are many other positive stories arising from CETA: tariffs on maple syrup will go down from 8% to 0%, tariffs on grains will go down from up to $190/tonne to zero, tariff duties for virtually all industrial products (99.6%) will be eliminated at entry into force.
CETA has special significance for Europe when it comes to the protection of our world-famous origin products, or geographical indications - "GIs" for short. Our origin product regime is a definite success story – for producers, consumers and for rural development.
GIs support high-quality jobs in rural communities, and promote the European commitment to food quality and tradition around the world.
The deal between the EU and Canada is hugely significant, because by ensuring the strongest possible protection for a number of our important European food GIs in trade agreements like CETA, European products such as Greek Feta cheese and Italian Parma ham retain their competitive edge and their producers can grow their exports with confidence. I would remind you that wines and spirits were already protected.
Our GI products - 3,300 and counting – combine traditional production techniques with innovation in terms of quality and in terms of marketing.
And this focus on quality yields positive results: products covered by geographical indications represent around 6 % of EU food and drink production, but 15 % of EU food and drink exports.
GIs have contributed strongly to making Europe the best food address in the world, and I believe the growing global population is eager to buy our products, which are produced to the highest safety and quality standards.
CETA is not only about trade exchanges, but also about issues of concern for the EU and Canada, issues of vital importance for our peoples, like jobs. We can expect CETA to bring new job opportunities across the EU and Canada.
An ambitious outcome from CETA would boost EU exports and therefore contribute to a more sustainable employment base in Europe and Canada. Our data shows that export-driven jobs in the EU attract a wage premium of 8.8%.
The agreement also offers opportunities to EU and Canadian businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, and in every country of the EU. The agreement will overwhelmingly benefit smaller companies who often operate with tighter margins and leaner organisations. Based on my experienced of similar diplomatic business mission last year, I have every confidence that our EU agri-food businesses will forge the necessary relationships with their Canadian counterparts to benefit both sides.
CETA significantly improves the mobility of services suppliers:
It facilitates the transfer of key personnel across the Atlantic; it allows companies to send staff for after-sales-services of particular interest for machinery, software and equipment suppliers; and it creates a framework for recognition of professional qualifications for regulated sectors like architects and accountants.
These are all extremely positive steps forward. I am confident that with this strong and progressive agreement, we have built a foundation for our exporters and agri-food traders to do what they do best. I hope that today's meeting will be useful for you all, and I want to provide my assurances that my services are on standby to assist in any way we can.
CETA is a true good news story, both for trade and for bilateral relations between two like-minded partners like the EU and Canada. Let's make the most of this great opportunity! Thank you.