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The European Parliament's International Trade Committee has approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.
A draft recommendation on the deal was passed by 25 votes to 15, with one abstention. Artis Pabriks, the rapporteur for the agreement, said: "By approving CETA today we take a significant step forward. In the face of rising protectionism and populism, Parliament is able and willing to act on behalf of European citizens."
"Ratifying this agreement with Canada will enable trade to continue to bring wealth to both shores of our transatlantic friendship," he added.
The agreement will be put to a full parliamentary vote at the February plenary session in Strasbourg. If approved, CETA could apply provisionally from as early as April 2017. As CETA was declared a "mixed agreement" by the European Commission, it will also need to be ratified by national and regional parliaments.
CETA was signed in October 2016, after a deadlock with Belgium's French-speaking regions was broken. The Canadian Government introduced implementing legislation to its parliament the next day.
Upon entry into force, 98 percent of EU tariff lines will be duty-free for goods that originate in Canada. Within seven years, 99 percent of EU tariff lines will be duty free. Customs duties on industrial products traded between the EU and Canada will be eliminated after seven years. Nearly 92 percent of EU agriculture and food products will be exported to Canada duty-free. CETA also provides for the mutual recognition of certification for a wide range of products.
The agreement will not remove tariff barriers for public services, audiovisual and transport services, or for certain agricultural products, such as dairy, poultry, and eggs. CETA provides that the EU and Canada retain the domestic right to regulate.
In 2015, the EU imported EUR28.3bn in goods from Canada and exported to it EUR35.2bn. EU exports to Canada are expected to rise by more than 20 percent when CETA is implemented in full.
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