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Belgium rejects pact after emergency talks

Reporter: Hong Lianhao 丨 CCTV.com

10-25-2016 15:03 BJT

Belgium has rejected the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada after emergency talks in Brussels broke down.

The Belgian decision blocks a free trade agreement seven years in the making. There are 28 nations in the European Union. Belgium is the lone holdout on a deal that was scheduled for signing on Thursday.

It’s called CETA—the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. If passed it would eliminate 98% of the existing trade tariffs—making it a lot easier to move goods between the world’s largest trading bloc and Canada.

We’re outside the Belgian prime minister’s residence where federal and regional officials held emergency talks on CETA. Prime Minister Charles Michel said the talks broke down over objections raised by one region, Wallonia.
"We were asked to give a clear answer today. The clear answer at this stage is no. It will now be for the EU institutions and Government of Canada to deliberate on the political consequence of this situation." Belgium Prime Minster Charles Michel said.

Ahead of the meeting, the region’s leader said he wouldn't be pressured into backing a deal. And that’s what happened. He wouldn't budge.

"I don’t buy a cat in bag. When we sign an international treaty it determines the citizens lives for dozens of years, so it deserves a few extra days of discussion." Paul Magnette, Minster-President of Wallonia said.

So the door is still open for this agreement, but it’s unlikely to be signed on the original timetable. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, is expected to talk to the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an effort to keep the deal alive.

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