EU, Canada sign delayed trade deal after Belgian drama

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Brussels—Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Union leaders on Sunday finally signed a landmark trade deal seven years in the making, after it was nearly being torpedoed by a small region of Belgium.
The ceremony in Brussels had been pushed back from Thursday after French-speaking Wallonia, with just 3.6 million people, initially vetoed an agreement affecting more than 500 million Europeans and 35 million Canadians.
Cheers and applause erupted as Trudeau signed the pact alongside EU President Donald Tusk, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.
Protesters earlier burst through riot police lines and hurled red paint at the European Union’s headquarters, while activists banged drums and chanted slogans against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
“Well done, well done,” Trudeau said as he hugged and kissed Tusk and Juncker on his arrival amid tight security. “Things were difficult but we managed to succeed in the end.”
“What patience,” replied Juncker, adding: “This is an important day for the EU and for Canada too because we are setting an international standard that will have to be followed by others.”
The start of Sunday’s summit was further delayed when Trudeau’s plane was briefly forced to turn back due to mechanical problems, capping two weeks of chaos over what was meant to be a symbolic sign-off.
CETA removes 99 percent of customs duties between the two sides, linking the single EU market with the world’s 10th largest economy.—APP

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