The new Italian government is unlikely to back the implementation of the European Union's ambitious trade agreement with Canada, according to a minister.
Gian Marco Centinaio, the newly-appointed Italian agriculture minister, has told the La Stampa newspaper that the national government is likely to ask the Italian parliament not to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which was signed in 2016.
The politician cited a lack of sufficient protection for the country's speciality foods as the reason for this opposition, with the statement likely to prompt concerns that the viability of CETA is now under threat.
He said: "We will not ratify the free trade treaty with Canada because it protects only a small part of our Protected Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication products. Doubts over this agreement are shared by many of my European colleagues."
CETA was the largest free trade deal signed by the EU since the implementation of its agreement with South Korea in 2011. It will require all 28 EU member states to approve the deal for it to take full effect, meaning Italy's stance could represent a significant problem.
Responding to the news, Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland expressed confidence that full ratification of CETA will still be achieved.