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Canada working toward EU trade agreement in October

Trade Minister Freeland said ratification expected in early 2017

Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, shown here at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in March. Global Affairs Canada via YouTube)

Toronto | Reuters –– Canada is working toward signing a new trade agreement with the European Union in October, federal Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday.

“We’re working hard for it to be the year when CETA, the Canada-EU trade agreement, is signed. We’re working towards signing in October and ratification early next year,” she told the Toronto Global Forum.

“At a time when so much of the world is saying no to trade and saying no to the global economy, Canada is in a position to say yes,” Freeland said.

Supporters of the deal, called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), say it would increase trade between the EU and Canada on a range of products, boosting the EU economy by 12 billion euros (C$17.6 billion).

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde told the conference that the agreement had been viewed positively at the recent G20 Summit in China.

“There were some very favourable views expressed on both sides to support the Canada and Europe trade deal, so let’s hope that that one can be put to bed,” she said.

However, it faces opposition from Austria and anti-globalization groups and risks being caught up in a growing public backlash in the West against free trade and globalization, which critics blame for factory closures, depressed wages and a widening gap between rich and poor.

“When you think about this protectionist environment, if we can get CETA done that will be incredibly valuable for Canada, a huge competitive advantage, and also it will be a very powerful message to the world,” Freeland said.

— Matt Scuffham is a finance sector correspondent for Reuters in Toronto.

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