BRUSSELS - After four years of opaque negotiations, the lid remains sealed on major parts of Canada's contentious free-trade deal with Europe.
"This is a big deal, this is the biggest deal Canada has ever made. Indeed, it is an historical achievement," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper, announcing the deal Friday with European Commission president Jose Manual Barroso in Brussels.
But the text of the so-called CETA agreement remains a private document that still requires "drafting and fine tuning" and will need a "scrub" from lawyers to make sure it is "legally coherent," a Canadian official said in Brussels on condition he not be identified.
It could be another 18 to 24 months before final European approval is given, and Canada will likely proceed along a similar time frame, the official said.
Ottawa instead released a 44-page overview and other summary documents. The material largely avoids specific details of what Canada had to give up to Europe, especially in sectors such as dairy and intellectual property protection in pharmaceuticals.
The official said the concessions include gains by European companies to bid on provincial and municipal contracts — the EU's No. 1 priority — as well as patent protection for drugs and better access for European cheese.
The documents trumpeted the buy-in by beef and pork producers, who gained additional access to the European market.
Friday's announcement comes amid accusations by the dairy sector's farmers of a government "giveaway."
"CETA will not affect Canada's supply management system, which will remain as robust as ever," says the government summary.
"The vast majority of supply-managed products will be exempt from increases in market access."
Canada would partially extend patent protection for brand-name pharmaceutical drugs, which would delay the introduction of cheaper generic drugs by up to two years.
The subject has the potential to spark discontent among the provinces because some estimates say that could increase the total bill on drugs for provincial health plans and consumers by more than $1 billion a year.
The official in Brussels said the government was discussing the possibility of compensation to the provinces on dairy and pharmaceuticals.
The government addressed the hot topic in its documents, saying it "supported innovation" that would support "high-paying jobs" in Canada.
"The agreement strikes an appropriate balance between rewarding innovators and ensuring that Canadians are able to reap the fruits of such innovation, from the latest technologies to a wide range of affordable, life-saving drugs."
The proposed deal is broad, intended to eliminate virtually all tariff barriers and many non-monetary impediments to trade, investment and even labour mobility between the two sides.
But ratification could be complex, perhaps requiring all 28 EU members to ratify, as well as a green light on key issues from Canada's 10 provinces.
Federal officials say they may need to compensate provinces for higher drug costs and damages to dairy farmers, mostly based in Quebec and Ontario, from provisions that will see the EU double sales of cheese in Canada.
Documents released Friday paint a rosy picture of what Canada will gain from its biggest and most ambitious trade negotiation since the North American Free Trade Agreement of two decades ago, but brush over European gains.
They are considerable, including access to billions of government procurement dollars at the provincial and even municipal level — something not found in NAFTA — a de facto extension of drug patents by two years, and the eliminating of all tariffs in the lucrative auto trade that will give major European car makers a chance to increase sales through lower prices.
The Europeans also secured their demands on geographical indicators, which essentially patent the local names of their products, such as parmesan cheese.
In all, the agreement calls for the elimination of about 98 per cent of tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic from day one of implementation, and 95 per cent of agricultural products. Some tariffs are being phased out over seven years.
Canada also won some turf battles. Domestic car producers will be able to increase sales into Europe from the current 10,000 or so to 100,000 units under relaxed rules of origin, in addition to the phasing out of the EU's 10 per cent tariff on imports.
Beef farmers increased their quota by 50,000 tonnes, in addition to 15,000 tonnes for high quality beef, and pork farmers will see their quota rise to 80,000 tonnes from the current 6,000.
The catch is that Canadian producers will have to convert to hormone-free product for the European market, which experts say can add about 15 per cent to costs.
Punitive European tariffs on fish and seafood products will be phased out — 96 per cent immediately upon implementation — but Newfoundland will need to eliminate its minimum processing requirement that guaranteed jobs stay in the province.
Ottawa is uncertain about whether it will need to compensate provinces and industry because, officials say, it is not clear if there will be real damage.
For instance, EU's additional 16,000-tonne quota for cheese only represents 4.2 per cent of Canada's current market, which officials say is growing at 6,000 tonnes a year. Within the two-year implementation process, growth may be able to absorb all or most of Europe's increased sales.
As well, it will be eight years before any impact of changes to patent protection for brand-name pharmaceuticals show up as higher costs for provincial drug plans, they say.
Some studies have estimated it could add $1 billion to drug costs, simply because cheaper, generic drugs will take longer to become available, but industry officials say it will be difficult to quantify that far into the future.
Ottawa has no plans at the moment to extend its offer of compensation, including to Ontario's complaint that handling changes under the deal will impact its wine and spirits industry.
Critics and supporters will add up sectoral and regional winners and losers.
But the big prize for Canada, say government officials, is in the deal's potential and the sheer size and wealth of the European market — 500 million people and an economy approaching $17 trillion — that will now be available to Canadian manufacturers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers and even professionals, such as engineers, under improved conditions and mostly duty-free.
"Under CETA, not only will world-class Canadian products enjoy preferential access to the EU, Canadians will also have the tools and support they need to succeed in this lucrative market," the government's glossy information brochure on the trade deal boasts.
"The vast benefits will be shared by Canadians across the country, from those who produce primary products — for example minerals and agricultural products — to those who turn them into value-added processed and manufactured goods."
A joint study estimated bilateral trade will increase by about 20 per cent as a result, resulting in a $12 billion boost to the Canadian economy and the creation of about 80,000 new jobs.
The deal may also be a major political victory for the Harper Conservatives, who have made expanded trade a key plank of their economic agenda.
With success in dealing with a large, developed, sophisticated entity like the EU, Canada has also burnished its credentials as a willing partner in other trade talks, particularly in the Trans-Pacific Partnerships, India and Japan, say analysts.
— with files from Julian Beltrame in Ottawa
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets behind the bar at the Victoria pub in Montreal Friday, March 16, 2012 where he stopped in to meet some supporters and have a drink for St. Patricks Day.
Stephen Harper and wife Laureen in 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8472663517/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
You Eat Half, And I'll Eat Half
Conservative leader Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper stand next to a tray of hot cross buns at a bakery in Mississauga, on April 23, 2011.
Stephen Harper with wife Laureen and their chinchilla Charlie. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8425819048/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves after going for an ATV ride as he visits a farm for a campaign event in Wainfleet Ont., on Monday, April 4, 2011.
Nom Nom Nom
Prime Minister Stephen Harper eats maple taffy as he visits a sugar shack in Norbertville, Quebec on Tuesday, April 5, 2011.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives his wife Laureen a kiss following a day of G-20 meetings in Toronto. June 27, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=938&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Can I Keep Them?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays with foster kittens at 24 Sussex. May 1, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=900&media_category_typ_id=6&media_id=5512" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper throws a small snowball at photographers after talking with reporters at a campaign stop in Guelph, Ontario Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006.
Thank God You're Not Wearing Overalls
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives Taylor Swift the book "Maple Leaf Forever" before her concert at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. May 20, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=900&media_category_typ_id=6&media_id=5512" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Stephen Harper <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/23/harper-wedding-photos-ottawa_n_2006374.html" target="_blank">surprises an Ottawa couple on their wedding day</a> in 2012.
Yep, Definitely A Cat Person
Laureen Harper laughs as she holds a husky dog with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they tour Caribou Crossing, Yukon, south of Whitehorse Monday August 20, 2012.
Stephen Harper, his children Ben and Rachel, and wife Laureen cross Abbey Road in 2009. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/12OfGXN" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper hams it up with Bonhomme Carnaval in the Prime Minister's Centre Block Office. November 25, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1238&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, far left, watches a third round match between Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, and Serbia's Jelena Jankovic with his children Rachel, center, and Benjamin, right, at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in New York.
Psst! I Like Your Hat
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, speaks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1, 2011.
Whoops, How Did This Get In Here...
Part of a painting of Prime Minister Stephen Harper fully nude, by Kingston artist Maggie Sutherland, is shown at the Central Kingston public library in Kingston, Ont. on May 18, 2012.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his son Ben watch a bloopers show while attending the Calgary Flames NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers in Calgary, Saturday, April 11, 2009.
In The Key Of C Major
Prime Minister Stephen Harper practices a few chords after arriving at home from work. February 19, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1457&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Love You, Mom
Conservative leader Stephen Harper gets a hug from his mother Margaret during a visit to his campaign office in Calgary, Saturday May 29, 2004.
We Can't All Grow A Pirate 'Stache Like Trudeau
Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds up a moustache scarf to kick off the start of ‘Movember’, November 1, 2012 Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8146161138/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
The Sweet Side Of Politics
Senior Legislative Assistant, Katherine Locke, left, and Government House Leader Special Assistant, Zoe Lawson, show off their House of Commons gingerbread house to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his office on Dec. 16, 2010. The gingerbread house was filled with rows of gummi bears as members of Parliament. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1355&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves to tourists as he walks on the beach after the closing of the VI Summit of the Americas on April 15, 2012 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays a game of table tennis with Team Canada's Mo Zhang at Canada House in London on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.
Whaddya Mean It Doesn't Fit?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper tries on an old hockey helmet at he tours the Yukon's Hockey History exhibit at the McBride Museum in Whitehorse, Yukon on Thursday, August 25, 2011.
Stephen Harper, his son Ben, and Wayne Gretzky watch the men's ice hockey team's gold medal game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8457917081/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Who Said Politics Can't Be Fun?
Stephen Harper and his son Ben hit balloons into the crowd after his speech at the party's three-day policy convention in Montreal on Friday March 18, 2005.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Jamie Robinson (guitar) play along with Blue Rodeo's front man Jim Cuddy, and recording artist Jimmy Rankin as they belt out a tune during a Juno Awards reception at 24, Sussex March 31, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=2099&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, looks up from dishing out pancakes at Stampede breakfast in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, July 10, 2011.
I Spy Something Cute
Stephen Harper welcomes two Chinese pandas at Toronto's Pearson Airport on March 25, 2013. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8588948719/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
A young Stephen Harper.
Just Smile And Back Away Slowly
Clowns ham it up with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick. July 19, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1037&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, throws Senator Gerry St. Germain's cowboy hat into the crowd after presenting him with a new one as his wife Margaret St. Germain, right, laughs during a barbecue at St. Germain's ranch in Surrey, B.C., on Monday August 6, 2012.
Thumbs Up, Up And Away
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives the thumbs up from the cockpit of his campaign plane as he arrives in Ottawa,Tuesday May 3, 2011.
He's A Belieber
Stephen Harper presents Justin Bieber with a Diamond Jubilee Medal on Nov. 23, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8212520594/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
I'm With Him
Stephen Harper and Wayne Gretzky, joined by students on an outdoor ice rink in Saskatoon on Feb. 5, 2010. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/ZTlKy6" target="_blank"> Facebook</a>
Shhh... This Is The Best Part
Stephen Harper, wife Laureen and Suraksha, Grade 10, visit an IMAX theatre in Bangalore, India on Nov. 8, 2012.
Umm... This Is My Costume
Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses for a photograph with Halloween trick-or-treaters at his official residence in Ottawa, Wednesday, October 31, 2012.
Is It Cold, Or Is It Just Me?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper bundles up in a parka as he tours Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Thursday, February 23, 2012.
One Of Harper's Many Hats
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper adjusts his hat prior to the arrival of Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, for the official start of the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Alberta, July 8, 2011.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen play with some furry friends at the official opening of the new Ottawa Humane Society facility on July 6, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1724&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Omigod, So Cute
Met Batisse X, official mascot of the Royal 22nd Regiment, prior to welcoming French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault to Ottawa. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8554783327/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
I Can Totally Take You
Prime Minister Stephen Harper receives a cricket lesson from Ankur Biswas, cricket team captain, at the Bishop Cotton Boys School. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/12OffwT" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper drives a dog sled after meeting mushing teams at the Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, N.W.T., Monday, March 10, 2008.
A Very Harper Holiday
Hanging With The Golden Girls
Stephen Harper meets Canada's women's hockey team, gold medal winners at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/17v6qKa" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen, left, make cookies with 10-year-old brain cancer survivor Baxton Wacholtz, right, and his mom Michelle, of Telkwa, B.C., during a photo opportunity at Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday August 7, 2012.
Does This Mean I'm In The Band?
Canadian musician Jens Lindemann visits Stephen Harper before a concert. "His blue trumpet reminded me of Sgt. Pepper," according to Harper. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8519328992/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Stanley's Not Going To Be Happy About This
Met with Constable Dan Allen of the Child at Risk Response Team (and Cagney the dog) while in Calgary. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8640427193/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Say, 'Happy Halloween!'
Prime Minister Stephen Harper points out the camera to baby Grayson, dressed up as a giraffe, during his first time trick-or-treating at 24 Sussex. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/10ppG5w" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
Stephen Harper hugs his daughter Rachel Hugging Rachel as results come in after the 2011 election. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/15WI2TY" target="_blank">Facebook</a>