CETA a Big Opportunity for Small Business—but still an unknown quantity: survey

Ottawa/Calgary – As the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into effect September 21st, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) lauds this significant policy achievement by successive federal governments. 

To mark the start of this historic deal that eliminates 98 per cent of the tariffs between the two parties, CFIB is releasing new survey results showing that a significant number of business owners are interested in exploring the opportunities presented by CETA.

“The federal government should be recognized for implementing this important agreement, which gives Canadian business owners access to the second largest economic zone in the world,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President, National Affairs at CFIB. “This is particularly important at this time, given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding NAFTA.”

The CFIB survey finds that almost one in five (18 per cent) small and medium-sized businesses are very or somewhat likely to trade with the EU as a result of CETA. Among those who already trade with Europe, more than half said they plan to increase the dollar value they import from and/or export to the region over the next three years.

But, while some business owners are enthusiastic about more trade with Europe, the survey suggests that more than half (56 per cent) of small businesses in Canada are not at all familiar with the trade agreement.

“Now that the agreement is in place, the next step is to educate and encourage businesses to look at Europe as a potential market,” Pohlmann added. “The government now has an opportunity to engage SMEs and provide them with the tools and resources they need to grow and expand their business with CETA.”


On behalf of its members, CFIB has made the following recommendations to ensure that small businesses use CETA to its full potential.

  • Clearly communicate how small business may benefit from CETA
  • Provide resources aimed at SMEs that provide concrete steps on how to engage in trade with the EU.
  • Work with the EU and other trade-related entities to build tools, such as a centralized website, that provide SMEs with clear and relevant information on what the customs processes are, what documentation they might need, what regulations may impact their specific shipments, with suggestions on how to address them.

The International Trade Survey of 4,399 CFIB members was conducted online between May 15 and June 26, 2017. Results are statistically accurate within plus or minus 1.48 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Full survey results are available at cfib.ca.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.