Canada’s Minister of International Trade, François-Philippe Champagne, and Israel’s Minister of the Economy and Industry, Eli Cohen, recently signed the Protocol Amending the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (Protocol). Once the Protocol is ratified by both governments, a modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) will enter into force, benefitting businesses and exporters in Canada and Israel.

WHAT’S NEW?

When the original CIFTA came into force in 1997, it was a narrower agreement focusing exclusively on trade in goods and eliminating all tariffs on industrial products. In the course of continued negotiations held between Canada and Israel, the scope of the CIFTA was broadened between 1999 and 2003 to reduce tariffs on agricultural and agri-food exports.

A revised, and vastly more comprehensive, CIFTA was announced in July 2015. Moving beyond the goods-only approach taken in the original CIFTA, the revised agreement included chapters on e-commerce, intellectual property, labour, the environment, technical barriers to trade, trade facilitation, as well as a chapter on sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

In 2017, Canada and Israel agreed to further revise and modernize the CIFTA through the inclusion of progressive elements, such as chapters on gender and small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as a provision on corporate social responsibility.

The Protocol includes the 2015 amendments and recently negotiated progressive elements, but needs to be ratified by both the Canadian and Israeli governments before entering into force, which is expected to take place in 2019.

OTHER TRADE AGREEMENTS

The CIFTA is one of 14 trade agreements to which Canada is a party, whether on a bilateral, regional or multilateral basis. Most recently, on September 21, 2017, Canada provisionally implemented an ambitious Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, and on January 23, 2018, concluded negotiations on the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). For further information about these trade agreements, please see our Blakes Bulletins: CETA’s Impact on the Canadian Market and Canada Signs the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

CONCLUSION

The CIFTA, CETA, CPTPP and various other trade agreements involving Canada include rights and benefits for Canadian business and opportunities to expand trade — whether exports to, or imports from — the various nations involved. With the newly revised text of the CIFTA, there are enhanced opportunities for trade between Canada and Israel to grow on a preferential market access and duty-free basis.