Belgium reaches EU-Canada trade deal compromise

Minister-President of Wallonia Paul Magnette arrives at a meeting on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a planned EU-Canada free trade agreement, at the Lambermont Residence in Brussels, Belgium, October 27, 2016 © Yves Herman
The Belgian government has reached a deal with the Wallonia region on the free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada, according to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Michel said "an agreement" was found after a last minute round of negotiations with Belgium's French-speaking community who have been holding up the deal.

Brussels has not released the details of the compromise.

The signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was cancelled on Thursday after the deal was blocked by Wallonia's regional parliament.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was forced to cancel Thursday’s trip to Brussels as the negotiations had stalled.

Wallonia premier Paul Magnette said the region was not opposed to an EU trade deal with Canada. However, he insisted the secret arbitration scheme allowing corporations to sue governments had to be dropped from the agreement.

Regional leaders in Wallonia voted 46 to 16 against CETA over fears of job losses due to cheaper farming and industrial imports.

CETA promises to eliminate tariffs on 98 percent of goods immediately after ratification and also encompasses regulatory cooperation, shipping, sustainable development and access to government tenders.

CETA’s supporters say the deal would yield billions in added trade through customs and tariff cuts and other measures facilitating business ties.

Opponents claim the trade deal will only benefit the wealthy and large corporations.

For CETA to be ratified, all 28 European Union countries have to agree the treaty. Until now, Belgium has been the main obstacle to the free trade deal.

"All parliaments are now able to approve by tomorrow at midnight. Important step for EU and Canada,” Michel tweeted.