The European Union’s free trade agreement with Canada is stuck in Italy where lawmakers are threatening not to pass it through parliament.
Ministers of the Eurosceptic 5-Star/League government have said Italy would not ratify CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) – threatening the bloc’s first major trade deal since an EU-South Korean accord launched in 2011.
“Nobody is in a hurry to bring CETA to the chamber,” Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio told reporters in Brussels ahead of a meeting of EU agriculture ministers.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, CETA took effect provisionally in September 2017, with the reduction or removal of tariffs on 98% of products, but needs to be ratified by all 28 EU countries. Just one failure to ratify could bring the whole deal down.
According to the EU statistics office Eurostat, Italian goods exports to Canada have increased by 2.1% year-on-year in the eight months since CETA provisionally entered into force and its food and animal exports by 11.9%.
Asked why Italy would block a deal that boosted exports, Centinaio explained: “We want to understand with concrete data whether CETA is really advantageous for our country. We have the impression that it is not … We do not have other data. We have assumptions, mostly perceptions from firms, mainly from the agriculture sector.”
In other news, China’s Xinhuanet online noted that Italy fears CETA will do little to protect Italian products with denomination of origin labels, such as its famous wines, cheeses, and hams. And this could be another stumbling block when negotiating treaties with Japan or South American bloc.