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Opportunities for Swedish companies as free-trade agreement has been finalized

On October 18th, 2013, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso announced that the four-year negotiations to establish a Canadian-European Free Trade Agreement had been finalized. While the text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has yet to be released, the deal will address a wide array of economic issues.

Once implemented, the agreement is expected to immediately eliminate 98% of tariffs between the EU and Canada, ease the transfer of personnel between Europe and Canada, strengthen links between standards setting bodies, alleviate barriers to investment, open the Canadian public procurement market, and liberalize trade in services

Canada has long been a lucrative market for Swedish companies and Sweden played an important role in the initialization of these agreements, strongly supporting negotiations during its EU Presidency term in 2009. Canadian consumers are very open to Swedish products, widely perceiving them to be well-designed, innovative and of a high quality. In addition to this reputational strength, the marked similarities between the Canadian and Swedish business environments have facilitated cross-border success.

As a result of these and other factors, Swedish companies have excelled in the industrial equipment, energy and environmental technology, healthcare, ICT, fashion and food sectors, creating a significant economic footprint in Canada. The implementation of the CETA agreement is expected to accelerate this trend, increasing the number of viable business opportunities for a wide range of Swedish businesses.

There is still much work to do before the CETA agreement officially commences. The deal must be translated into the EU's 24 languages and approved by all 28 EU members and each of Canada's provinces and territories, a process that could take up to two years. In the meantime, Swedish companies that are considering entering, or are already established in, the Canadian market should re-orient their business strategies to take advantage of this imminent business opportunity.

11 November 2013