I am sorry to hear the concerns many have had regarding the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and so I am glad to have this opportunity to clarify a few things as this agreement does not carry the risks that some have suggested.
Underlying the Agreement is the opportunity to add £1.3 billion to our economy every year, expand exports to Canada by almost a third and create thousands of new British jobs, with further benefits across the EU and Canada.
CETA will tackle a range of issues to make business with Canada easier. It will remove customs duties, end limitations in access to public contracts, open-up services' market, offer predictable conditions for investors and help prevent illegal copying of EU innovations and traditional products. I can assure residents that the Agreement contains all the guarantees to make sure that the economic gains do not come at the expense of democracy, environment or consumers' health and safety.
There have been claims that investors could successfully sue a government for losses if a government takes a decision in the wider public interest. This could is a misconception. It is important that businesses investing abroad are protected from discrimination and unfair treatment, but there is nothing included which would allow companies to undermine public policymaking.
As you may be aware, negotiations for CETA concluded in September 2014. The text of the agreement is currently under legal review before being presented to the EU Council for signature and then the European Parliament for approval. It is expected to be laid before Parliament in 2016 and MPs will have a number of opportunities to scrutinise the final agreement and Parliament ultimately has the final veto power.