EU, Canada near trade pact after breaking impasse

Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:06am EDT
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* Deal expected to be sealed on Friday

* Deal would generate $28 bln a year in new business trade

* Would be EU's first trade deal with G7 major economy

By Robin Emmott and Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The European Union and Canada are expected to close negotiations on a multi-billion-dollar trade deal on Friday if they can overcome final disagreements ranging from medicine patents to feta cheese and integrate two of the world's biggest economies.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will meet at around midday (1000 GMT) in Brussels to wrap up talks that were launched in 2009 but which stalled early this year over demands for greater access to each other's markets.

"The negotiations have really moved forward, which means that the two leaders will meet tomorrow with the aim of concluding," Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said. Harper was due to fly to Brussels later on Thursday.

Harper and Barroso are set to announce the deal - the EU's first with a member of the G7 club of major economies - at a news conference at 1230 GMT on Friday, if they can agree final issues including protecting Europe's distinctive geographically defined products such as feta and Gorgonzola cheeses.

Backed strongly by Canadian and European industry, the Canada-EU deal was originally presented as a straightforward way to reinvigorate economic growth for both sides and generate around $28 billion in new trade and business a year.   Continued...