Juncker hopes for Canada trade deal in a ‘few days’

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

BRUSSELS: Euro­pean Com­mis­sion chief Jean-Claude Juncker said yes­ter­day he hoped that a stalled EU free­trade deal with Canada can be struck in the coming days. “I hope we can see an agreed set­tle­ment in a few days,” Juncker told a press con­fer­ence as op­po­si­tion from a Bel­gian re­gional gov­ern­ment pre­vented the unan­i­mous EU-wide sup­port needed for the deal to be adopted.

“If I am say­ing that I hope an agree­ment will be found in the next cou­ple of days, this does in­clude to­day.” He de­nied that the Euro­pean Union sum­mit, which wraps up on Fri­day, was the dead­line for the deal. Juncker has warned that if the EU fails to reach such an agree­ment with Canada, it will likely scup­per trade talks with other parts of the world, in­clud­ing on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the United States. The head of the Bel­gian re­gion of Wal­lo­nia, Paul Mag­nette, yes­ter­day said he still re­fused to sign off on the deal with Canada, call­ing a last-minute of­fer “in­suf­fi­cient” even though he added there “is a will to ad­vance.”

Mag­nette spoke af­ter marathon talks with Cana­dian Trade Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land and an EU of­fi­cial in the cap­i­tal of Wal­lo­nia, the walled me­dieval city of Na­mur, 70 km (40 miles) south­east of Brussels. The Na­mur par­lia­ment last week voted to block the deal, known as CETA-mean­ing that Bel­gium can­not sign up to the pact and leav­ing the deal in limbo af­ter seven years of ne­go­ti­a­tions.The hold-up also threat­ens to tor­pedo next week’s planned visit to Brussels by Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau to sign the deal. — AFP

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