Canada 'still on track to sign EU trade deal in October'

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Canada is pushing ahead with plans to sign a new free trade agreement with the EU this October.

Canada still expects to sign a new free trade agreement with the EU next month, despite opposition to the deal from a number of quarters.

Trade minister Chrystia Freeland told the Toronto Global Forum this week that the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will most likely be signed in October and ratified early next year, reports Reuters.

This is despite the fact that Austria's government is opposing the agreement, alongside many anti-globalization groups. The negotiations are also taking place against a backdrop of increasingly negative public sentiment about the concept of free trade.

Nevertheless, it is expected that CETA could increase trade between the EU and Canada across a wide range of products, bolstering the European economy by €12 billion.

Ms Freeland also stated that signing CETA would allow Canada to affirm its commitment to the free trade principle, even in spite of the populist opposition bubbling under in many countries.

She said: "When you think about this protectionist environment, if we can get CETA done that will be incredibly valuable for Canada, a huge competitive advantage, and also it will be a very powerful message to the world."