Canada sees no guarantees on EU trade pact, hard work ahead

Thu Jun 2, 2016 1:34pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - There are no guarantees a free trade deal between Canada and the European Union will come into force and a lot of hard work still needs to be done, Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) faces increasing opposition in some of the EU's 28 member states as well as from European trade unions.

"We're taking nothing for granted and nothing is guaranteed," Freeland said in a phone interview from Paris where she attended a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"I certainly am optimistic while believing we have to work very, very hard," she added.

Canada and the EU, which say CETA could boost bilateral trade by 20 percent, want to formally sign the deal this year and ratify it next year.

Freeland and EU Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom said on Wednesday that if CETA failed, it would wreck the bloc's hopes for a free trade deal with the United States.

"(The Europeans) understand this is a big test for Europe and Europe's ability to act and have agreements with international partners ... it means our European partners are really committed to working hard to get this done," Freeland said on Thursday.

Opponents say CETA hands too much power to multinationals and describe it as a threat to democracy.   Continued...

Canada's International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie