Germany Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Says he does not expect EU-Canada trade deal to fail

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday said he did not expect a planned free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada to fail, but said it could take some time to answer questions raised by Belgium and other countries.

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“I don’t think the agreement can fail,” Gabriel told reporters before a meeting of EU trade ministers in Luxembourg. “But Belgium and Romania for example still have questions that perhaps can be answered today. Perhaps we will need a bit more time.”

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All 28 EU governments now back the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which would be the bloc’s first trade accord with a G7 country.

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But the French-speaking region in the south of Belgium opposes the deal, and the country’s peculiar governing structure means it cannot sign up without backing from all five sub-federal governments.