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Belgium reaches deal to break deadlock over EU-Canada free trade agreement

Belgium reaches deal to break deadlock over EU-Canada free trade agreement
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Belgian politicians have reached an agreement to back a landmark free trade deal between the EU and Canada.

The signing ceremony for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA had been called off after the French-speaking region of Wallonia vetoed the deal.

The Belgian premier Charles Michel hailed the agreement, saying it was ‘an important moment’, adding it was now up to the country’s parliaments to agree by Friday night, meaning it could be signed within days with approval from the other 27 EU countries.

The EU Council President Donald Tusk said he would wait until the process was finalised before calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau back to sign the agreement. On Wednesday evening, Trudeau had cancelled plans to travel to Brussles for summit for the deal to be signed.

The deal, seven years in the making, had been stalled by Wallonia which was holding out for stronger safeguards for jobs, the environment and consumer rights.

Coming soon after Brexit, the tug-of-war and the potential collapse of the deal has raised concerns in the UK over its future negotiations on trade when it leaves the union.

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