By Alan Wolff | Fortune
It could affect future U.S. negotiations.
Last Sunday, after seven years of negotiations, the European Union (EU) and Canada signed a free trade agreement known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The agreement provides for duty-free trade between Canada and the EU (for 98% of industrial products) and offers agricultural producers additional market access.
Getting to the point of signing this deal was far from easy. The negotiations had become a cliffhanger after a regional parliament in Belgium, whose approval was necessary as an EU member state, voted down the agreement. It had two primary objections: Belgian farmers did not want more competition from Canadian dairy products, and Belgians in general feared that agreeing to set up a special court for hearing foreign investor disputes would undermine national sovereignty, limiting the ability of local governments to enact environmental, safety, and health regulations.