Italy’s new government has threatened to torpedo the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada — the EU’s first major free trade deal since 2011.
On June 14, Italy’s new agriculture minister, Gian Marco Centinaio, announced the government wouldn’t ratify CETA. In an interview with Italy’s daily La Stampa, Centinaio said: “We will not ratify the free trade treaty with Canada because it protects only a small part of our PDO [Protected Designation of Origin] and PGI [Protected Geographical Indication] products. Doubts over this agreement are shared by many of my European colleagues.”
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the treaty entered in force on a provisional basis in September 2017, doing way with tariffs on a large number of goods and widening access to Canadian beef in Europe and EU cheese and wine in Canada.
CETA advocates have stressed the treaty will likely boost bilateral trade by 20% and may add €12bn to the EU economy and $9bn to Canada’s.
However, for CETA to come into full effect, all 28 EU member states must approve the agreement.
Italy’s association of agricultural companies, Coldiretti, has also warned against CETA. In a statement issued on June 14, the group backed Centinaio’s decision, saying CETA was “wrong and risky” for Italy.
According to DW, Italy’s challenge to CETA comes as the European Commission is eager to reach free trade deals with other countries and regions in the face of mounting trade protectionism by the administration of US President Donald Trump.
The Commission said it was working closely with EU members to ensure that EU trade accords were mutually beneficial.