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German lawmakers approve free trade deal between European Union, Canada


German lawmakers on Thursday approved a free-trade deal between the European Union and Canada, moving the accord a step closer to taking full effect.

The pact, formally known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, was signed in late 2016. Most of its terms have been implemented provisionally since 2017, but the parliaments of the EU’s 27 member nations must ratify the deal for -it to come fully into force.

Chancellor OIaf Scholz’s three-party coalition moved forward with ratifying it after Germany’s highest court in March rejected complaints against CETA, at least in the form in which it is currently in effect.

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Lawmakers voted 559-110 to approve the pact.

Another 11 EU countries have yet to ratify the deal, Verena Hubertz, a lawmaker with Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats, told parliament’s lower house before the vote.

Germany's Chancellor Olaf Shulz's three-party coalition ratified a free-trade deal between the European Union and Canada.

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Shulz’s three-party coalition ratified a free-trade deal between the European Union and Canada.
(Popow/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

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“We are optimistic, now that we are moving forward, that others will also follow very quickly,” she said. “But of course … this is much too long and much too slow in a globalized world that turns quickly.”

Hubertz said Germany had to wait for the court verdict and added that “we have eliminated concerns” about details of a dispute mechanism built into the pact. Conservative opposition lawmakers argued that little or nothing has actually changed and charged that the center-left had held up ratification for ideological reasons.

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The deal eliminates almost all customs duties and increases quotas for certain key products in Canada and the EU’s respective markets. The EU has said the agreement will save its companies some $623 million a year in duties.

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