EU likely to sign trade deal with Canada “next week”

PanARMENIAN.Net – European Union nations are unlikely to back a landmark trade deal with Canada as scheduled on Tuesday, October 18 but remain optimistic they can do so by next week, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is due to fly over to sign it, the Associated Press reports. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said that divisions within his nation over the deal remained even as EU foreign trade ministers were gathering for what should have been a meeting to sign off on the deal. Instead, Reynders was looking to make further progress at a two-day summit of EU leaders that starts Thursday. The goal is to be able to progress at the summit at the end of the week, he said. Trudeau is due to travel to Brussels to sign the agreement on October 27. EU Foreign Trade Commissioner Margot Malmstroem said there was still time to overcome Belgian objections right up to when the prime minister needs to book his tickets from Canada. The trade pact requires backing from all 28 member states, and Belgium can only back it if all of its regions do so. The francophone southern region of Wallonia of 3.5 million again rejected the deal last week. EU and Belgian officials are now working on an interpretive text that goes with the agreement to pull them on board and save the deal between 500 million EU citizens and 35 million Canadians, AP says. EU countries fear that the bloc will lose credibility if a deal of this size can be scuppered by a member state's single region. If we don't agree with Canada, with whom are we going to agree? I don't understand, said Slovak Minister Peter Ziga, who chaired the meeting. Belgium is a country that built the European Union from the very beginning, when trade was key to creating the bloc, he said. I don't understand it. Wallonia fears that its farmers will be priced out of the market with cheap Canadian produce and…

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