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EU and Canada sign delayed free trade agreement

The European Union and Canada signed a free trade agreement on Sunday after seven years of negotiations and last-minute delays.

The deal, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), is designed to boost growth and jobs and following weeks of uncertainty due to opposition in part of Belgium.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the treaty along with the heads of EU institutions, which should pave the way for it partially enter into force early in 2017 with the removal of most import duties.

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May says failure of CETA deal no bar to Brexit plans

Mrs May say it was important for Mps to be able to debate Brexit.

Theresa May has said that the breakdown in talks for a free trade union between Canada and the EU would have no bearing on the UK's own attempts to carve out a deal with Brussels.

The prime minister said she was "disappointed" by the blocks hit by the planned CETA deal but did not believe that they reflected on the UK's likely ability to get its own trade agreement with the bloc after Brexit. "We are not seeking to replicate an existing model," she told MPs in a statement. "We will be developing our own British model."

Mrs May also announced that parliament will be given the chance to discuss the terms of Brexit in a series of debates starting within weeks.

The discussions would take place both before and after Christmas, she added.

Belgium says it will not approve EU-Canada trade deal

Prime Minister Charles Michel said he would continue talks aimed at reviving the deal Credit: Reuters

Belgium said it had been unable to clear the way to approve an EU-Canada trade deal because a single region remains opposed.

"I have officially told Tusk that we have no agreement," said Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel after a meeting with regional leaders in Wallonia.

The Wallonians' implacable opposition threatens to derail the CETA trade agreement, which was seven years in the making.

Canada said it was "impossible" to continue talks last week, while the EU had given Belgium until Monday to hold crisis talks in the hope of reaching a compromise.

Michel said he was still open to dialogue with leaders in Wallonia, and that it was too early to say whether CETA was dead.

The breakdown of the talks has also highlighted the challenges faced by Theresa May as she attempt's to strike her own deal with the EU after the vote for Brexit.

Belgium set Monday deadline over EU-Canada trade deal

Walloon Minister President Paul Magnette (left) and European Parliament President Martin Schulz. Credit: PA

Belgium has been given until Monday evening to back an EU trade deal with Canada.

The Canadians have said they are "ready to sign" the historic deal and all 28 EU government back the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

However, it has been held up because the regional government of the French-speaking region of Wallonia in Belgium has refused to give the go-ahead, saying the deal is bad for Europe's farmers and gives too much power to global corporate interests.

Reuters reported that EU trade officials are offering tweaks to a political declaration appended to the treaty in a bid to get them to sign.

European Council President Donald Tusk is reportedly due to speak to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel by late on Monday to confirm if the deal is on.

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Breakdown of CETA talks shows challenges of Brexit deal

The breakdown of talks intended to create a free trade zone between Canada and the EU has highlighted the challenge faced by Theresa May as she attempts to strike her own deal with the bloc after the vote for Brexit.

One small region of Belgium is blocking a planned CETA trade deal with Canada that was seven years in the making - and it will have a similar power of veto over any agreement with Britain.

If the UK votes for a hard Brexit then it will need to have inked an agreement with the bloc within just two years - but European leaders are already warning that could be virtually impossible.

"If there are all these problems to have a simple trade agreement with Canda, just imagine a trade agreement with the United Kingdom," said Malta's president Joe Muscat.

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