Canada walks out of free-trade talks with EU

The Canadian trade minister, Chrystia Freeland, was on the verge of tears on Friday as she announced the “end and the failure” of talks with the Walloon government.

Canada walks out of free-trade talks with EU

World Bulletin / News Desk

A free-trade deal between Canada and the European Union may be dead after Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland walked out of talks with Wallonia leaders on Friday, Canadian media reported.

The Wallonia region of Belgium voted to reject the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), fearing cheaper goods from Canada would hurt its farming and industrial sectors. The deal must have unanimous approval from all 28 EU countries, including the three regions of Belgium.

Freeland met with Wallonia leaders to try to overcome their opposition, but failed.

“Canada worked really hard, and me personally, I worked very hard,” she said after walking out of the talks, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

“It’s become evident for me, for Canada, that the European Union isn’t capable now to have an international treaty even with a country that has very European values like Canada. And even with a country so nice, with a lot of patience, like Canada.”

Freeland said months of travel and lobbying in Europe were wasted.

“I’ve worked very, very hard, but I think it is impossible,” she said. “We have decided to return home. I am very sad,” she told reporters.

But Paul Magnette, Wallonia’s president, did not exude Freeland’s pessimism and expressed a glimmer of hope by saying difficulties remain but talks were productive.

“We made new significant progress, especially on the agricultural issues, but difficulties remain, specifically on the symbolic issue of arbitration, which is politically extremely important,” Magnette said, according to the CBC.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was to fly to Europe to sign CETA at an EU-Canada summit Oct. 27, but Magnette said any deal would not be ready and that the summit should be postponed.

While the EU Commission is handling negotiations with Canada, Belgium’s constitution gives any of its three regions veto power over trade deals.

In this case, it means a few million Wallonia residents can block a trade deal affecting 500 million Europeans and 35 million Canadians.

Last Mod: 22 Ekim 2016, 07:31
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