BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union and Canada signed a free trade agreement on Sunday aimed at creating jobs and growth, although it still needs to clear about 40 national and regional parliaments in Europe in the coming years to enter fully into force. The EU does not have a free trade agreement with Australia. They are in negotiations, but they are currently working mainly according to the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The EU`s agreement with Canada is called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or Ceta for short. Under CETA, the EU and Canada reaffirm their commitment to sustainable development and agree that continued trade and investment should strengthen, not weaken, environmental protection and workers` rights. For the EU, it is a first trade pact with a G7 country and a success snatched from the jaw of defeat at a time when the bloc`s credibility was cut off by Britain`s vote in June to leave the EU after 43 years of membership. The benefits and opportunities that the agreement presents for businesses will be particularly valuable for SMEs, as trade barriers tend to impose a disproportionate burden on small businesses that have fewer resources to overcome them than large companies. These include the following significant benefits to the economy: Negotiations were concluded in August 2014. The 28 member states of the European Union have approved the final text of CETA for signature, with Belgium being the last country to give its consent.  Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, travelled to Brussels on October 30, 2016 to sign on behalf of Canada.  The European Parliament approved the agreement on 15 February 2017.  The agreement is subject to ratification by EU and member state legislators.   It could only enter into force if the Court of Justice of the European Communities did not issue a negative opinion on the dispute settlement procedure following a request for an opinion from Belgium.
 In its opinion, the Court of Justice of the European Union found that the dispute settlement mechanism is compatible with EU law.  Pending its formal entry into force, substantial parts will be applied provisionally from 21 September 2017.  Canada and the EU have a long history of economic cooperation. With 28 Member States with a total population of more than 500 million and a GDP of €13 trillion in 2012, the European Union (EU) is the second largest single market, foreign investors and traders in the world. As an integrated bloc, the EU is Canada`s second largest trading partner in goods and services. In 2008, Canadian exports of goods and services to the EU totalled $52.2 billion, an increase of 3.9% over 2007, and imports from the EU totalled $62.4 billion. Ceta eliminates most, but not all, customs duties (i.e. import taxes) on goods traded between the EU and Canada. Tariffs on poultry, meat and eggs will remain in force. Did you know that you can save money on your international shipments to and from Canada? The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a free trade agreement between the EU and Canada that aims to boost trade and create growth and jobs. .