OFA Holds Out Hope For CETA

Bruce County's Pat Jilesen elected as Director-At-Large at OFA Convention in Niagara Falls, 2014. Photo by Ray Baynton.

A¬†director-at-large of Ontario’s biggest farm group is disappointed a massive free trade deal between Canada and the European Union will not be met by today’s deadline.

Earlier today, Belgium announced it still couldn’t back the agreement, because its Walloon region wants it renegotiated.

Wallonia is worried their farmers won’t be able to compete with cheaper, Canadian agri-food exports.

But Patrick Jilesen, with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, says growers rely on open marketing in Europe — and all across the globe — to make sales.

“Anytime you lose increased market access, it’s going to harm,” says Jilesen.

But Jilesen adds Canada can still ink a trade deal with the EU, and that a compromise can be found before a signing ceremony set for this Thursday.

“This is an important trade deal for agriculture in Canada, and my hope is that this isn’t a complete collapse. I think it’s a setback, but my hope is that [Canadian negotiators] will get back to the table,” he says.

It’s not clear what negotiations may take place going forward, although EU President Donald Tusk is now echoing Jilesen’s own sentiments that CETA isn’t dead in the water just yet.

Jilesen is holding out hope.

“I believe that there still is a path forward here,” he says. “Another delay in this process could be difficult for the agriculture economy in Canada, but let’s just hope they get back to the table.”

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