October 19, 2016 / 4:20 PM / a year ago

Key Canada minister in Belgium for last-minute talks on EU deal

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Belgium for last-minute talks on a proposed free trade deal with the European Union, which has run into problems, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Freeland met Paul Magnette, premier of the Belgian region of Wallonia, which is threatening to veto the deal. She is also due to meet other European leaders.

Almost all 28 EU governments back the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, which would be the bloc’s first trade deal with a G7 country. Wallonia opposes it, citing a planned investment court that would allow foreign companies to challenge countries over decisions affecting their investments.

“We are working hard with our European partners so CETA can be signed this fall and implemented next year,” said Freeland’s spokesman Alex Lawrence.

“If ‎Europe is incapable of signing a progressive trade deal with a country like Canada, this will send a very clear and unfortunate signal,” he added.

Magnette said on Wednesday that EU leaders should spend “a few months” fixing what he described as the many problems with CETA..

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alan Crosby

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