Canadian Manufacturing

Canadians ambivalent towards huge CETA pact: study

Report finds 84 per cent believe that trade diversification beyond North America is necessary, yet E.U. trade deal is not on the radar

MISSISSAUGA, Ont—A study conducted by shipping giant UPS Canada points to a significant divide between how small, medium and large businesses in Canada leverage trade agreements.

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) survey, conducted by survey firm Leger, reports that more than 80 per cent of businesses in Canada see global trade as critical to driving private sector competitiveness.

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Indeed, the report finds 84 per cent believe that trade diversification beyond North America is necessary. Yet, less than 25 per cent of businesses in Canada strongly support CETA, with another 44 per cent showing only lukewarm support.

“The ambivalence we’re seeing among Canadian business may be a result of the fact that the deal is still very new,” said Cristina Falcone, vice-president, public affairs, UPS Canada. “Still we’re optimistic that as businesses learn more about CETA and how it opens up new opportunities for competitiveness, we’ll see a stronger endorsement and strategic engagement with prospective new European customers.”

Other important findings from the UPS Canada CETA survey:

  • Two thirds of businesses currently export globally and of these companies, only one third export to the E.U.
  • Of those businesses that target Europe for export, 37 per cent expect CETA to compel them to increase export volumes to E.U. markets
  • Only 17 per cent of respondents anticipate the deal to motivate them to examine E.U. opportunities
  • Businesses that have a supply chain strategy in place (62.7%) are much more likely to believe their organizations could leverage CETA to their advantage than those that don’t (43.7%)
  • Overall businesses were more likely to exceed their growth benchmarks with a supply chain strategy in place (24.6%), rather than without (16.3%)
  • Nearly 6 in 10 organizations have a supply chain/shipping strategy

John Whitehead, a principal and consultant for global strategy advisory  Earnscliffe Strategy Group, sees the results as a positive sign, considering the nascent deal has yet to be finalized.

“The deal is not only quite new, it isn’t actually completed yet.  So it’s very encouraging from my perspective to see broadly-based support for a deal that is still being completed,” says Whitehead. 

“Thanks to the agreement in principle that was signed last October, Canadian businesses have a good opportunity to get prepared for the new risks and opportunities created by the agreement, even before it comes into force.”

Whitehead will define ways for businesses to prepare for CETA and the Manufacturing Canada Conferece 2014 at the Mississaugua Convention Centre on May 8.

Joy Nott, president of I.E.Canada, a trade association for importers and exporters, says CETA is a new type of trade deal drafted for today’s global markets.

“The deal will reduce barriers to the movement of goods, but it will also mean competitive advantages and an increase in employment opportunities for Canadians,” Nott says.

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