BRUSSELS, BELGIUM —The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the E.U. was almost set until Wallonia, a southern region in Belgium, blocked the deal by raising concerns and vetoing the agreement.
CETA is a comprehensive E.U.-Canada economic agreement to boost trade, strengthen economic relations and create jobs. Once applied, it will remove 99% of custom duties and many other obstacles for business.
It will remove customs duties, end restrictions on access to public contracts, open-up the services market, offer predictable conditions for investors and help prevent illegal copying of E.U. innovations and traditional products. The elimination of custom duties also will apply to the farm and food sector.
Opening agricultural markets could keep prices in Europe down and provide consumers with more choice. As a major producer of high-quality food, the E.U. will benefit from improved access to Canada’s market of high-income consumers. CETA could end nearly all Canadian duties on these products, which will benefit the E.U. food processing industry.
On Oct. 22, E.U. leaders met again to further talks to solve remaining issues and agree on a provisional application of E.U.-Canada trade deal.
Belgium’s Wallonia region objects to the CETA agreement due to concerns of not having enough safeguards or protection on labor, environment and consumer standards.
According to the Financial Times, Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian trade minister, left talks with Belgium’s Wallonia regional government, ending the attempts to continue the CETA agreement.
|Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian trade minister.|
“It seems obvious for me, and Canada, that the E.U. is not able to have an international agreement with every country which has such European values as Canada, and even with a country so kind, and so patient as Canada,” Freeland said, according to the Financial Times.
Wallonia, a French speaking region of Belgium, has been given until late Oct. 24 to support the CETA deal in order for it to go into effect on Oct. 27. If the trade agreement is not supported by Belgium the E.U. will be unable to sign.