Contact us at

Closer EU-Canada economic bonds: Challenges and opportunities for SMEs

Closer EU-Canada economic bonds: Challenges and opportunities for SMEs
Posted on Wed, May 9, 2012, 4:48 am by Alessandro Iachelli

Alessandro Iachelli works for the Italian Chamber of Commerce Canada – West with responsibility for the EU – Canada Project discussed in the article. He has a degree in International Relations, an avid interest in world affairs and has been involved with international trade for several years.

Canada is one of the European Union’s oldest and closest partners in what started out in the 1950s as a purely economic relationship that has evolved over the years to become a close strategic partnership.

Over the last forty years, the close relationship between Canada and Europe has seen some major steps forward in increased collaboration through agreements, among them the “Framework Agreement on Economic Co-operation” signed in 1976, the “Declaration on Transatlantic Relations” adopted in 1990 and the “EU-Canada Partnership Agenda” of 2004. It was only a matter of time before a framework for economic integration in the form of a free trade agreement was envisioned.

A process that was started in 2009 and looks to be finalized by the end of 2012, the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement currently being negotiated between Canada and the European Union sees both sides wanting an ambitious and comprehensive agreement that goes far beyond WTO commitments with a maximum degree of liberalization of trade in goods and services.

The European Union is the largest unified market on the planet with 550 million consumers and a GDP of over $17 trillion dollars and is Canada’s second largest trading partner in goods and services. An extra 12 billion dollars of national yearly GDP, new jobs and more economic prosperity for Canada are attainable as Canada and the EU reach the final stages before signing an agreement in principle.

The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada – West (ICCC) is organizing an 18-month long programme of business forums, seminars, conferences and convivial events across Canada and in Europe to promote business opportunities for SMEs and the creation of a platform for cooperation in anticipation of CETA’s finalization. All the activities in both Canada and the EU will have a differentiated target audience but a common goal: that of taking the EU-Canada relationship forward by providing occasions for exploring EU-Canada cooperation. This will be achieved by facilitating the involvement of SMEs in the opportunities arising from the expanded trade relations deriving from CETA and of formulating concrete recommendations with respect to future initiatives.

‘The Enhanced EU-Canada Economic Partnership: Challenges and Opportunities for SMEs” is a project partially funded by the European Commission with institutional and organizational support from partners on both sides of the Atlantic. It has a dedicated website at

ICCC held the project’s first successful event during the GLOBE 2012 Conference, a business forum on the environment on March 15th. Upcoming events are:

May 29th: EU-Canada Day in Milan with a delegation from the Vancouver Board of Trade;
June 13th: Business Forum on Energy in Calgary during the 2012 GLOBAL Petroleum Show;
October 25th: EU-Canada Day in London at Canada House, Trafalgar Square; and
October 2012: Seminars – How to Do Business in Europe – Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal.
According to Celso Boscariol, President, Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada – West, “CETA breaks new ground in trade agreements and its implementation will heighten Canada’s competitive position in the world, create jobs and bring about a more energetic economy in all sectors across the country.”

By the completion date of the project in July 2013, ICCC will have held 27 events in various cities across Canada and in Europe and published a business guide to be widely distributed on both continents.