The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada has been ratified by the European Parliament.
Set to dramatically reduce the number of tariffs and other barriers to trade between the two regions, the deal has moved a step closer to full implementation with the decision from Strasbourg, which concludes the ratification process of this deal at the EU level.
Once it has also been ratified by Canadian lawmakers, CETA will be able to enter into force provisionally, though the full terms of the free trade agreement will only be put in place once the parliaments in all EU member states ratify the deal according to their respective domestic constitutional requirements.
Trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said: "This vote is the start of a new era in EU-Canada relations - together we are sending a strong signal today. By building bridges rather than walls, we can face the challenges that confront our societies together.
"In these uncertain times, with rising protectionism around the world, CETA underlines our strong commitment to sustainable trade."
Annual trade between the EU and Canada is estimated to be worth around €100 billion. CETA is expected to accelerate this by saving European businesses more than €500 million a year currently paid in tariffs on goods exported to Canada, with almost 99 per cent of these savings coming into effect from day one of the implementation process.
The agreement is designed to reduce the amount of red tape involved in international trading, provide a more unified system of governance and oversight, and create new public procurement opportunities for businesses in both the EU and Canada. Consumers are also set to benefit from improved access to products and services from overseas.