Brussels — The EU and Canada said on Saturday they had agreed to start a free trade agreement on September 21, paving the way for more than 90% of the treaty to come into effect.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement has been championed by both sides as a landmark transaction for open markets against a protectionist tide, but last-minute wrangles over cheese and pharmaceuticals were holding up its start.
"Meeting at the Group of 20 in Hamburg, reconfirming our joint commitment to the rules-based international trading system, we agreed to set the date of 21 September 2017 to start the provisional application of the agreement, thus allowing for all the necessary implementing measures to be taken before that date," European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
"It is by opening up to each other, by working closely with those who share the same values that we will shape and harness globalisation," the joint declaration said.
The agreement will enter definitively into force once all 28 EU member states and parliaments have ratified it.
The EU had not been satisfied that Canada would open up its markets to 17,700 additional tonnes of EU cheese and provide guarantees for the patents of European pharmaceuticals.
A spokesman for Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said that the allocation of the cheese tariff rate quota would be made before the September deadline.