(Figure in U.S. dollars)
OTTAWA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - The European Union and Canada will soon complete talks on a free trade deal, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Wednesday, signalling an end to negotiations that have dragged on for years longer than planned.
Canada initially said a deal would be struck by December 2011. It then pushed that back to December 2012 as the two sides struggled to overcome disagreements over pharmaceuticals, financial services, patents as well as beef and dairy exports.
Business leaders in Canada and the European Union have in recent months openly pressured the two sides to seal an agreement.
“We will soon complete negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union,” Harper said on Twitter. He did not give further details.
Ottawa and Brussels say a deal could generate around $28 billion in trade and new business a year.
Two sources close to the talks told Reuters they had been told Canada and the European Union could announce they had struck a deal in principle, allowing negotiators to tackle the last few remaining problems in private.
Canada’s 10 provinces and the European Union’s 28 members will also have to approve any agreement. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Eric Beech)