EU-Canada trade deal, CETA still delayed by Belgian regional parliament

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is a proposed free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. If enacted, the agreement would eliminate 98% of the tariffs between Canada and the EU. Critics oppose the treaty on the grounds that it will weaken European consumer rights, including those concerning food safety, and that tariffs are already negligible.

Twentieth-century trade deals slashed tariffs. Newer ones between rich countries, such as CETA, focus on cutting other barriers to trade. After seven years of haggling, European negotiators dream of European toys and electrical products being sold straight to Canadians, without having to go through a second round of health and safety checks.

Paul Magnette, the head of government of Wallonia, spoke a day after he received an ultimatum of Friday to allow Belgium’s federal government to endorse the huge trade deal, known as CETA

“We cannot sign by Friday. That is not reasonable,” a combative Magnette told RTBF radio after EU ministers asked he reverse course in time for a discussion on trade by European leaders set for Friday.

All of them, including Belgium’s national government, back it. But Wallonia says CETA is a threat to farmers and welfare standards.

The EU fears that the delay of CETA would be fatal to the deal and send a bad signal to the world that it is difficult to reach trade accords with Europe.

The 28 EU leaders will discuss the draft CETA deal shortly in Brussels