The European Parliament has approved a landmark free trade deal with Canada. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) has been seven years in the making and its ratification is set to eliminate almost all trade tariffs between the European Union and Canada.
EU lawmakers backed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) by 408-254 votes despite crowds of protesters contesting the deal outside. All 28 governments will need to give their approval to finalise the process of ratifying the agreement.
“The ratification in all the member states will start, there will be a long process and in most countries without any problems, in some, with more discussions: "We will try to be there, we will try the effects of the Canadian agreement, try to calm some of the concerns,” said EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.
Ceta will see the removal of 99% of non-farm duties between the EU's market of 500 million people and Canada's 35 million - trade worth €63.5bn ($67bn; £54bn) in 2015. That will boost growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, supporters say.
Ceta's future was put in temporary doubt last October, when after seven years of talks the small Belgian region of Wallonia vetoed the deal until an addendum was added addressing concerns over the rights of farmers and governments.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who urged MEPs to ratify the deal, will address the European Parliament on Thursday.
The agreement follows Donald Trump’s pointed withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his first day in office, and has repeatedly threatened to impose tariffs on imports.
The result was celebrated by backers of the deal - including Jyrki Katainen, European Commission vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness.
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