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EU, Canada To Sign CETA

The European Union and Canada leaders will sign a crucial trade deal that took years of negotiations to finalize, at a summit in Brussels on October 30, the European Commission said Saturday.

The trade agreement known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is expected to strengthen ties between the EU and Canada by creating jobs and growth through boosting trade and economic relations.

The European Commission described CETA as "the most far reaching agreement ever concluded by the EU in the area of services and investment".

Several deadlines for signing the landmark deal, which took nearly seven years of negotiations, passed as the EU failed to reach a consensus among its member countries.

The latest opposition to the pact had come from Belgium, where Wallonia and other French-speaking communities blocked the pact over concerns that it could damage local interests, leading to last-minute talks by Belgian lawmakers.

The EU required endorsement from all of its 28 member countries to sign CETA. As approval by the Belgium parliament was pending, a signing summit planned for October 27 had to be called off.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to attend the summit on Sunday.

CETA will remove over 99 percent of trade tariffs between the EU and Canada and increase bilateral trade by EUR 12 billion per year, the European Commission said in a statement.

On the first day of its implementation, Canada will eliminate duties worth EUR 400 million for goods originating in the EU the figure will rise to more than EUR 500 million a year once all trade tariffs are phased out.

Further, the trade deal will not affect governments' powers to regulate in the public interest, especially with regard to environmental and social standards, meaning EU food safety regulations, including those on genetically-modified products or the ban on hormone-treated beef will continue.

Both parties will also sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) during the October 30 summit that deepens bilateral cooperation on foreign policy.

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