Making Sense of the CETA

First assessment of complete Canada–EU trade deal questions benefits, highlights imbalances in negotiated outcome
September 25, 2014

OTTAWA—A new analysis of the recently leaked Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), demonstrates in detail how the deal is unbalanced, favouring large multinational corporations at the expense of consumers, the environment, and the greater public interest.

“Canadians are making a lot of sacrifices to get a deal that mainly benefits large multinational corporations,” says Scott Sinclair, senior trade policy researcher with the CCPA, and co-editor of the study. “Even more than past Canadian agreements, the CETA substantially constrains the democratic right of governments at all levels to implement public interest legislation, job-creation strategies, environmental protection policy, and new public services.”

The international study, involving experts from Canada and the EU, is the first independent analysis of the completed CETA text, which was leaked in August. It analyzes some of the CETA’s most controversial chapters as exposed by a series of leaks in August. They include assessments of the agreement’s impacts on intellectual property rights for pharmaceutical products; investment protection, investor-state dispute settlement and financial services regulation; infrastructure procurement and buy-local food policies; public services, and many other areas.

Findings include:

  • The changes to Canadian patent protection for pharmaceuticals required by the CETA will delay the availability of cheaper, effective generic drugs, driving up health care costs for Canadians. By conservative estimates, the additional cost of extended patents will be $850 million annually, or 7% of total annual costs for patented drugs. This extra cost far exceeds the projected savings to consumers from the total elimination of tariffs on European goods entering Canada.
  • Canada has agreed to cover almost all public procurement by provincial and municipal governments, Crown corporations and other public agencies, blocking them from using public spending to encourage local development, create jobs in innovative sectors like renewable energy, or support local farmers.
  • The final text includes a controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that a large bloc of parties in the European Parliament, which has a veto over the deal, has indicated it will reject. Many of Europe’s 28 member states, which will have to individually ratify the agreement, also have serious misgivings about ISDS.

“The notion that this sweeping treaty is final and nothing can be changed before citizens and elected representatives have even seen the text offends basic democratic principles,” says Sinclair.


Making Sense of the CETA: An analysis of the final text of the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, is available on the CCPA website:

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.