The Italy government believes that the interests of its farmers are not protected by an EU-Canada free trade deal, and as such the country would not ratify the deal, said Italy’s nationalist agriculture minister on Thursday.
A Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was signed in October 2016 between Canada and the European Union at a time when there was a rising sentiment against globalization within Europe. 98 percent of tariffs between the EU and Canada is sought to be eliminated in the deal that has yet to get ratification form the members states of the EU.
A potential danger to health, democracy and the rule of law is how the opposers of the deal throughout Europe see it as. Demanding that the Italian government refuse to agree to the deal, demonstrations and protests throughout the country were held by farmers in 2017.
The supporters and advocates of the CETA however, view the deal to one that is a logical extension of the global trade system which is faced with serious threats from the protectionist trade policies of the US President Donald Trump.
Eurosceptics and anti-establishment parties such as the ones that came to power in Italy in the election held in the country March are also threat to the global trading system, say experts.
“We will not ratify the free-trade agreement with Canada because it only protects a small part of our protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI) produce,” said Italian Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio in an interview that was published in Italian daily La Stampa on Thursday.
“We will ask parliament not to ratify this treaty or others similar to CETA”, he added.
Centinaio said that the decision to oppose the deal was a part of the joint government contract that was issued by the populist coalition government of the country comprising of members from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the hard-right League.
The decision reflected “doubts over this agreement are common among my European colleagues” as well as the nationalist stance taken by his party, said Centinaio who is also a League member.
However, later on Thursday, the Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said that she was “confident we will have full ratification in the end”.
The deal has come into force last September in a provisional capacity, noted Freeland. “Nearly 100 percent of the real economic impact and benefit of CETA is already being felt by Canadians, and by Europeans,” she said.
Freeland also noted that she has had “a good conversation about CETA” with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during the G7 summit held last week in the Canadian province of Quebec.
(Adapted from FT.com)