European trade commissioner says hurdles remain for ratification of EU-Canada deal

European trade commissioner says hurdles remain for ratification of EU-Canada deal


MONTREAL — The European trade commissioner says no timelines have been reached for full ratification of the Canada-EU free trade accord.

Cecilia Malmstrom says prolonged internal procedures among some European Union member states are holding up approval of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

The agreement, called CETA, has been in effect provisionally for one year. But until all governments give the go-ahead, a crucial component of the deal remains out of bounds.

Investor protection provisions, which involve the creation of a new court system to resolve disputes between investors and governments, cannot enter into force until all 28 member states give the thumbs-up.

In June, Italy’s agriculture minister reportedly said his country’s new populist government won’t ratify the free trade deal. The development has added to Canada’s formidable trade challenges, which already include uncertainty surrounding the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement and hefty steel and aluminum tariffs imposed recently by the United States.

The trade commissioner, who was in Montreal on Wednesday alongside International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr for the first joint committee meeting on CETA’s implementation, says she is in dialogue with Italy to discern whether the apparent objections stem from “a real problem” with the deal.

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