Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Government of Canada


  1. Home
  2. >
  3. Bilateral Relations
  4. >
  5. Canada - Netherlands

True or false? Facts and myths about CETA

CETA is a landmark agreement that upholds and promotes the values shared by the European Union and its Member States, and Canada. These include sustainability, rules-based trade and multilateralism. CETA demonstrates our shared ambition for trade that is beneficial to all parts of the economy and society.

Our commercial relationship is close, longstanding, and strengthened by CETA. Two-way trade in goods and services between our countries has increased by 34.7% since CETA came into effect provisionally in 2017. This includes a 25.1% increase in Canada’s imports of Dutch products over this period.

Below are some common questions about CETA, often based on reoccurring myths. Here are the facts.

CETA, the Environment and Health

Is CETA dangerous for the climate, the environment and health?

No. CETA includes chapters on the environment and sustainable development which provide for cooperation between Canada and Europe. It guarantees the right for Member States of the EU to regulate in the public interest in chapters such as the one on safety of agricultural products and the chapter on investments, as well as in areas such as public services, the environment, culture, health and safety, and labour protection. CETA also reaffirms Canada and the EU’s commitments to the Multilateral Environment Agreements that each have signed, which includes the Paris Agreement. CETA goes beyond any other trade agreement signed by the EU regarding environmental and climate matters.

Clean technology trade is an area with strong potential for continued growth under CETA, which eliminated tariffs in goods such as wind turbines and rechargeable electric batteries. Canada-Netherlands trade in environmental and clean technology products increased by nearly 10% between 2017 and 2018. In November 2019, the Government of Canada and the European Union brought together experts to discuss how clean technology companies can benefit from CETA and to take advantage of the tremendous economic opportunities that await in the field of clean technology and renewable energy. It is predicted that the global clean technology market for goods and services is set to exceed $2.5 trillion by 2022.

CETA also enhances cooperation on science, technology, research and innovation. Dutch and Canadian researchers are working together in fields ranging from agriculture to medical science, including research currently underway on the rapid development of antiviral compounds to fight COVID-19, which received funding through Canada’s COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity. Meanwhile, our trade in life sciences products is more important than ever: this trade, including in medical devices and supplies, has grown by 8.59% since 2017, the year CETA provisional application began.

CETA, Food Safety standards and Agriculture

Will CETA allow hormone-treated beef or other products currently forbidden in The Netherlands?

No. All European Union health standards continue to apply to Canadian products. Both Canada and the EU maintain high standards for food safety and animal and plant health. CETA does not undermine these European standards, nor the standards implemented in Canada regarding European products imported to Canada. Meat products for export to the EU from Canada must come from animals raised following EU requirements and processed complying with EU requirements in an EU-approved facility, accompanied by appropriate certification indicating that the product complies with all EU rules. Canadian health standards similarly continue to apply to EU beef and other products.

Canada’s new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) demonstrate Canada’s commitment to food safety and make Canada’s food system even safer by focussing on prevention. Under these regulations, as of January 15, 2019, new licensing, preventive control and traceability requirements apply to food businesses that import or prepare food for export.

Will CETA have an impact on the treatment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the Netherlands?

Nothing in CETA requires the EU or Canada to lower their standards. CETA does not contain any obligation that would require EU legislation, for instance in the area of food or product safety, to be amended.

CETA does not alter the ability of the EU, its Member States or Canada to regulate and legislate, including in areas such as the environment, health and safety. This includes the EU and Canada’s existing regulatory frameworks for GMOs. Nothing in CETA limits the ability of the EU to maintain or change its existing regulatory framework for GMOs. In addition, CETA does not contain any obligation that would impede the application of EU legislations on Canadian products or enterprises. All applicable requirements of the importing party must be met, without exception.

Is CETA a threat to the Netherlands agriculture and cattle industry?

No. CETA does not threaten to displace the agricultural or livestock industry in the European and Dutch markets. In 2019, the Netherlands maintained an agri-food trade surplus of approximately €79.3 million with Canada, as Canadian products only made up a 0.3% share of agri-food and seafood imports by the Netherlands. Moreover, when CETA is fully implemented, Canada’s duty-free quota for beef, veal, and pork export to the EU will be well under 1% of the total EU market.

In 2019, Canada imported nearly €12.5 million of cheese from the Netherlands. Under CETA, the Netherlands enjoys recognition of two Geographical Indications covering cheeses: Gouda Holland and Edam Holland.

CETA and Consumer Protection

Is CETA bad for European and Dutch consumers?

No. CETA strengthens economic relations and promotes new economic opportunities for Canadian and European businesses, in turn lowering prices and widening choices for Canadian and European consumers. CETA also facilitates cooperation between EU member countries and Canada on the safety of consumer products so that Canadian and European regulators can more effectively share information and coordinate product recalls in order to better protect the health and safety of their citizens. CETA aims to protect the health and safety of consumers in their respective jurisdictions to the highest possible degree.

An Inclusive Agreement

Does CETA only benefit large multinationals?

No. By their very nature, trade agreements, by increasing transparency, predictability, and lowering tariffs, benefit Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). CETA recognizes the importance of SMEs in bilateral trade relations and includes provisions that are of particular benefit to SMEs, which make up 91% of Dutch companies exporting to Canada. For example, Canada and the EU committed to improve the procedures governing the movement of goods so as to reduce transaction costs, while ensuring national safety and security are also maintained. CETA also includes modernized provisions for the protection of intellectual property, an area of interest to the entrepreneurial and innovative businesses in the Netherlands. In addition, Canada and the EU adopted a Recommendation on SMEs at the first meeting of the Joint Commission established under CETA. The recommendations highlights the importance of SMEs to the Canadian and EU economies, creates a free, publicly accessible website containing information on the agreement that is useful to SMEs, and establishes Contact Points to advance SME-related objectives and outcomes throughout CETA.  

Will CETA lead to the privatisation of public services?

No. CETA provides guarantees that governments remain entirely free to manage public services as they see fit to best serve their citizens. In addition, CETA’s Government Procurement Chapter contains provisions that preserve governments’ policy-making ability, for instance by providing that nothing in the agreement may prevent a party from imposing or enforcing measures necessary to protect public morals, order or safety; and human, animal or plant life or health.

Will CETA weaken labour standards?

CETA’s Trade and Labour Chapter recognizes Canada and the EU’s ability to set their own labour priorities and levels of protection. It also encourages high levels of labour protection. The chapter prevents both Canada and the EU from either waiving or offering to waive their labour laws as a means of encouraging trade or investment. The Chapter also commits Canada and the EU not to fail to enforce their labour laws and standards to encourage trade or investment.

CETA and the Investment Tribunal System

Will CETA pave the way for private justice allowing multinational companies to impose their views?

No. CETA sets a new approach to investment protection which preserves the State’s right to regulate in the pursuit of legitimate policy objectives. CETA makes investor state dispute resolution procedures fairer, more independent and more transparent. CETA provides for a permanent tribunal, with tribunal members court-nominated for a fixed term and paid by States, with the possibility to appeal. This tribunal will be implemented upon the full entry into force (i.e., once CETA is ratified by all EU Member States). CETA introduces rigorous ethical requirements for the members of the tribunal and Appellate tribunal. The Agreement does not prevent governments from regulating in the public interest. Moreover, it does not require that investors be compensated simply because a government measure has affected their expectations, including those regarding profits, nor does it allow the tribunal to request that a government change its laws, regulations, or policies.

Can a non-Canadian company launch a claim against the EU or an EU member state using CETA's investment dispute resolution mechanism?

No. An enterprise must qualify as Canadian to benefit from CETA's investment dispute resolution. CETA's investment provisions offer protection to Canadian enterprises which (1) are established in Canada and (2) have substantive business activities in Canada. As such, an enterprise that is established in Canada, owned or controlled by persons from a third state, and lacking substantial business activities in Canada (e.g. letter-box companies), would not be recognised as an investor for the purposes of CETA's investment chapter.

What are the other benefits of CETA for the Netherlands?

With CETA, the Netherlands is now able to export 98% of its products duty-free to Canada, which should benefit major sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, machinery and electrical equipment, oil products, motor vehicles, textiles and agri-food products.

Canada has also provided unprecedented levels of access to its procurement market at the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal levels, as well as access to the public utilities and transportation sectors. To enhance transparency and accessibility, Canada will have until five years from the date of CETA’s provisional application to develop a single point of access where suppliers can find CETA-covered procurement notices for all levels of government.

CETA secures Dutch companies access to the Canadian services market. Canada committed not to impose citizenship or residency requirements as a condition for certain Dutch professionals seeking to engage in an activity in Canada (lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, etc.). The Netherlands had a surplus in services trade with Canada of €345 million in 2019, with exports in management consulting, engineering, technical and financial services.

Canada has accepted liberalisation of certain maritime transport services and has taken market access commitments with respect to dredging, repositioning of empty containers, and feedering services on the Halifax-Montreal route.

CETA contains a comprehensive intellectual property (IP) chapter, which provides the Netherlands’ innovators, creators, and other IP rights holders with a transparent and predictable framework for the protection and enforcement of their IP rights in the Canadian marketplace. CETA includes specific commitments on copyright and related rights, trademarks, designs, pharmaceutical IP, geographical indications (GIs) and IP rights enforcement measures, building on the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and multilateral treaties under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to which Canada and the EU are both party.



Date Modified: