EU-Canada Finally Signed Long-Delayed And Disputed Free Trade Deal

By klaireaustria

Oct 31, 2016 06:00 AM EDT

The European Union (EU) and Canada have signed a long-delayed landmark trade deal, following weeks of uncertainty due to opposition in Belgium.

The said deal was signed in Brussels by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and top EU officials. The signing ceremony initially planned for Thursday had been cancelled after Belgium's Wallonia region vetoed the agreement. All 28 EU states approved the deal on Friday when consensus was reached.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known as Ceta, required all EU member states to endorse it.

Highlights and Purpose

The deal removes 99% of tariffs - and officials hope it will generate an increase in trade worth $12bn a year.

The deal was due to be signed at 11:00 local time but was postponed after Mr Trudeau's plane had to turn back to Ottawa airport after experiencing "mechanical issues" shortly after take-off.

After the agreement was finally signed several hours later, Mr Trudeau said that Canadians and Europeans share the understanding that in order for real and meaningful economic growth. Likewise, he furthered that they need to create more good, well-paying jobs for their citizens.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker referred to "a new chapter" in relations between the EU and Canada, which would open new opportunities "more than half-a-billion people on both sides of the Atlantic".

A handshake for European Council President Donald Tusk, representing the EU's 28 member states, came with a hug, and from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a kiss on both cheeks.

Canada has a new economic opening to 500 million Europeans. The EU believes this proves it can do big trade pacts which are good for its citizens.

But there are some observations to be made. Ceta was approached with goodwill on all sides. Still it took seven years. Ceta is about removing trade barriers. Brexit may discuss which ones to put up.

Seven years of negotiations were left hanging in the balance after Belgium's French-speaking region of Wallonia demanded stronger safeguards on labour, environmental and consumer standards. It also wanted more protection for Walloon farmers, who would face new competition from Canadian imports.

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