UPDATE 5-Say cheese: EU strikes trade deal with Canada, looks to U.S.
* EU, Canada finally close talks launched in May 2009
* Deal is Europe's first with a G8 economy
* EU hopes to use it as stepping stone to pact with U.S.
By Robin Emmott and Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS/LUXEMBOURG, Oct 18 (Reuters) - The European Union and Canada agreed a multibillion-dollar trade pact on Friday that will integrate two of the world's largest economies and pave the way for Europe to clinch an even bigger deal with the United States.
The deal will make Canada the only G8 country to have preferential access to the world's two largest markets, the EU and the United States, home to a total of 800 million people.
"This is the biggest deal our country has ever made," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in Brussels, adding that it outstripped the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Talks between the two sides launched in May 2009 but stalled for months over quotas for Canadian beef and EU cheese. Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso met in Brussels to resolve outstanding issues and seal the deal.
In a cheeky touch, chefs served Italian gorgonzola and Greek feta cheese at a four-course lunch laid on for the two leaders to celebrate the deal, which EU trade chief Karel De Gucht called a "template" for negotiations with the United States. Continued...