What Does the Canada-Europe Free Trade Agreement Do for Canadian Businesses?

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, our country’s second-largest trading partner, took effect in the fall of 2017. This trade agreement is intended to boost trade and investment between Canada and Europe, and with 98% of EU tariff lines now being duty-free for Canadian goods, there are new opportunities to explore across the pond.


What Does CETA Cover?


The agreement covers many aspects of the economic relationship between Canada and Europe, including:


  • Trade in goods and services – with benefits to agriculture, oil and gas, forest and metal products, fish and seafood, and the automotive sector. All services, including financial services, benefit from non-discriminatory treatment and market access, except those expressly excluded.
  • Investment protection – provisions ensure that investors get the same treatment as domestic investors, aka “most-favoured-nation treatment”.
  • Intellectual property – including additional patent protections and the introduction of geographic indications and trademarks
  • Government procurement – expands the ability of Canadian business to compete in Europe’s national procurement markets and vice versa.
  • Labour mobility

Let’s take a closer look at the last aspect listed above, labour mobility, and what CETA means for Canadian employers wanting to bring in European workers and Europeans wanting to work in Canada.


Labour Mobility under CETA

The following is a quick outline of the labour mobility provisions introduced under CETA. As most employers are aware, it’s necessary to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from ESDC to bring a foreign worker to Canada on a temporary basis. However, CETA’s temporary entry provisions facilitate temporary travel or relocation for certain categories of business persons without the need for an LMIA. There are a number of major categories of exemptions (http://www.canadianimmigration.net/work/lmia-exemptions/) that apply to European businesses and citizens. It should be noted that none of these provisions open up permanent employment opportunities in Canada or the EU. Certain types of professions and occupations, such as medical professionals and post secondary students, are still subject to the regular LMIA process, so it’s important to get expert advice before making plans to bring in foreign employees.


Business Visitors

 CETA expands the options available to work without a work permit to include business visitors and/or business visitors for investment purposes engaged in an activity listed in Annex 10-D of the agreement. These vary from installers and repair personnel to suppliers, buyers, promoters and researchers. It also includes executives, if the purpose of the stay is to meet with business partners.



This category of exemptions covers individuals making an investment or supervising or administering the commercial operations of an enterprise. They may apply for an initial permit to work in Canada for 12 months.


Intra-Corporate Transferees

This category covers senior personnel, managers, specialists and a new category of “graduate trainees.” The first three may apply for work permits of up to three years, with the possibility of extensions. Graduate trainees may apply for up to a 12-month period.


Contractual Service Suppliers

 Individuals with the correct professional qualifications who are employed by a European enterprise and who are listed in Annex 10—E of CETA are exempt from LMIA requirements.


Independent Professionals or Self-Employed Persons

Individuals listed in Annex 10 – E who have at least six years of experience in their sector and have a services agreement that meets with Canada’s LMIA regulations may be eligible to work in Canada on an expedited basis.

Canada is now one of the few countries in the world to have guaranteed preferential access to the world’s two largest economies, the US and the EU. This new arrangement opens up opportunities on both sides, but it’s important to get assistance with any potential foreign worker arrangements.  When dealing with agreements of this magnitude and complexity, working with a professional HR recruiter will pay off. Goldbeck Recruiting has a firm grasp of the global economy that we live in, having completed many international placements with searches that span not only Europe but the globe.


Interested in reading more about Canada’s relationships with foreign countries? Take a look at the President of Goldbeck Recruiting, Henry Goldbeck and Rick Hepp, Labor and Employment Attorney at Benesch Law discuss visa applications and their challenges: https://www.goldbeck.com/hrblog/main-avenues-foreign-workers-moving-u-s/