Cheers to trade deal with Canada

24 May 2017

I was in good spirits as I made my way across the Atlantic to participate in European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan's Delegation to Canada earlier this month. With exports worth £74m by customs value in 2016, Canada is a historically important market for Scotch Whisky but a new trade deal could see those figures boosted.

This visit was an excellent opportunity to promote the benefits of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement, otherwise known as CETA - of which the SWA has been a long-standing supporter.  CETA is one of the most ambitious trade deals negotiated by the EU and one which we hope to see form a blueprint for future deals.

Once implemented, CETA offers a number of benefits for Scotch Whisky as well as other EU spirits. Canada operates a provincial liquor board system with the liquor control board of Ontario (LCBO), one of the world's largest buyers and retailers of beverage alcohol. We'll see various unfair practices by liquor boards tackled and improvements to the complex cost of service differential (COSD), which places imported spirit drinks at a competitive disadvantage

The importance of the EU spirits sector was amplified as I was joined by our friends at spiritsEUROPE, Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiritueux de France (FEVS) and the Polish Spirits Association. As CETA still needs to be implemented, we also welcomed Commissioner Hogan's strong advocacy for our sector which he displayed during his meetings with both the Canadian Agriculture Minister MacAulay and Trade Minister Champagne.
Our industry voice was further strengthened by our friends at Spirits Canada. Canadian spirits will also benefit from the CETA deal. Together, we held a joint reception in Ottawa to show our support for the #CETANow campaign which promotes the trade deal and is encouraging early implementation.  We also discussed the challenges posed by the introduction of a new annual automatic excise duty escalator in Canada, a move the Canadian and EU spirits industries strongly oppose. 

Since I left Ottawa, the Canadian Senate has passed the CETA implementation bill (C-30). It received  Royal Assent last week, with a view to application by July 2017.  In addition, all EU member states need to ratify CETA following the European Parliament's approval in February. Latvia currently leads the way having ratified shortly after the  vote in Brussels. The SWA hopes to see the UK ratify CETA as early as possible. These trade deals are essential for securing more open markets and supporting the growth of Scotch Whisky exports in the future.  Equally, it will be important to ensure  the commitments made by Canada are retained for UK spirit drinks post-Brexit.

Siobhan Sellers, Scotch Whisky Association's head of Americas market access