EU-Canada deal may be done soon

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

A TROU­BLED EU-Canada free trade deal can be signed “next week” de­spite the last minute op­po­si­tion of the Bel­gian re­gion of Wal­lo­nia, said EU trade com­mis­sioner Ce­cilia Malm­stroem yes­ter­day.

“I am not sure we will be able to make a de­ci­sion to­day, but hope­fully we’ll move for­ward and can make a de­ci­sion very soon,” Ms Malm­stroem said as she ar­rived for emer­gency talks with EU trade min­is­ters in Lux­em­bourg.

In a shock vote, the small Bel­gian re­gion of Wal­lo­nia voted last week to block the deal, known as CETA – mean­ing that Bel­gium it­self can­not sign up to the pact af­ter seven years of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The vote threat­ened to tor­pedo the deal’s long-de­layed sign­ing by Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau in Brus­sels on Oc­to­ber 27.

A fail­ure of CETA would de­liver a sharp warn­ing to post-Brexit Bri­tain about the dif­fi­culty of reach­ing an am­bi­tious trade deal with the EU.

Ms Malm­stroem said she re­mained op­ti­mistic that the con­cerns of Wal­lo­nia will be ad­dressed in time for the sum­mit through a so-called in­ter­pre­ta­tive doc­u­ment that would also be agreed to by Canada.

“I think that next week, we will be able to sign the dec­la­ra­tion with the Cana­dian govern­ment,” she said.

In the com­pli­cated maze of Bel­gian politics, Bel­gium’s fed­eral govern­ment is un­able to sign off on trade deals with­out the back­ing of all its re­gional and lin­guis­tic par­lia­ments.

“In Bel­gium, we still have some con­vinc­ing to do,” said Bel­gian Foreign Min­is­ter Di­dier Reyn­ders as he ar­rived at the talks. –

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