The French National Assembly today narrowly ratified the CETA trade agreement with Canada in a 266 to 213 vote.
Lawmakers in France began their ratification of the comprehensive trade agreement between the European Union and Canada last week, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed European Council President Donald Tusk to Montreal.
Canada’s Parliament has already ratified the pact with the support of the Liberals and the Conservatives.
Almost all of CETA went into force in September 2017, but individual ratifications by EU member countries will bring it fully into effect.
France’s ratification is a win for Trudeau’s trade agenda and for the international trading order that has been under assault by U.S. President Donald Trump. Canada’s ambassador to France, Isabelle Hudon, called the vote “good news” for political and economic relations between Canada and Europe.
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“It’s an essential step. We’re very pleased with our co-operation with the French government,” International Trade Minister Jim Carr told the Canadian Press in an interview last week.
The French government hopes today’s vote will lead to full ratification by the end of 2019. The Senate in France is expected to vote this autumn on ratifying CETA; it does not have the power to overturn the national assembly’s vote.
“It’s a positive signal about (the) rules-based multilateral order in a time when there are all kinds of pressures against it, including in Europe — Brexit, right?” said Meredith Lilly, a Carleton University trade expert who was an adviser to former prime minister Stephen Harper during the nine years of CETA negotiations that concluded under the Liberals.
CETA gives Canadian businesses preferred access to 500 million European consumers and a $24-trillion market. In 2018, Canada’s exports to the EU increased by seven per cent to more than $44 billion.