Trudeau hails EU-Canada trade deal in speech to EU lawmakers

Justin Trudeau Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during a joint news conference with the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

STRASBOURG, France —

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday hailed a new trade pact with the European Union, telling the EU parliament that the deal they approved this week will create jobs and boost the middle class on both sides of the Atlantic.

In his address, the first by a Canadian leader to the European parliament, Trudeau said that “trade that is free and fair means that we can make the lives of our citizens more affordable.”

He presented the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement as a “blueprint” for future trade deals and the outcome of Europe’s and Canada’s shared history and values.

The deal was approved Wednesday amid strong opposition from free-trade critics who fear it gives too much power to multinationals. They hope that it will be blocked by national and regional parliaments in the EU even after its provisional entry into force foreseen for April.

Trudeau sought to allay their concerns, stressing that “trade needs to work for people” and that the agreement aims to do just that and includes provisions that will allow governments to protect their citizens and workforce.

“If we are successful, CETA will become the blueprint for all ambitious, future trade deals,” he said. “If we are not, this could very well be one of the last.”

The deal removes barriers on all traded goods and services, with a few restrictions for agricultural products and in the sectors of audiovisual, transport and public services.

The trade agreement connects markets of 500 million Europeans with 35 million Canadians. If fully implemented, it could boost trade between the two by 20 percent from its 2015 level of 63.5 euros.

Backers of the deal hailed it as victory of openness over protectionism and stagnation at a time when many, including the U.S. administration, are heading that way. It comes at a time when populist movements are on the rise making the future of the EU uncertain.

Trudeau’s address came just days after he met U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House.

“My message Monday in Washington is the same as my message here in Strasbourg,” Trudeau told journalists. “We have to work as governments and in between governments to create jobs for the middle class. and opportunities for those trying to join them.”

While the Canadian prime minister acknowledged there may be differences in perspectives on how to approach that and denounced the politics of fear at a time of great anxiety across the world, he made no criticism of Trump. “What I saw from the American president, was a focus on getting things done,” he said.

Trudeau’s visit to Washington also focused on trade and ended on a relatively positive note, with Trump hailing the U.S. relationship with Canada as outstanding and suggesting only a few tweaks would be made to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trudeau is expected to continue his pro-trade campaign with an address to business leaders Friday in Germany.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • 1

    TumbleDry

    While some people will decry globalism, free and fair trade/freedom of movement are the way to go compared to the current isolationist tendencies (pointing finger at you UK/USA).

    We are already a global culture with exchange of ideas but goods are hindered by too many barriers.

    We also need more transparency.

    I only hope other countries are not going to fall for isolationist demagogues (pointing finger at you France/Netherland).

    All that said, I welcome cooperation between the EU and Canada.

  • 3

    inkochi

    Looks like a new Canadian gravitation. Though in the wind for a while, now coinciding with the Trump ascendancy, new and better trades pathways come to fruition.

    Whether willing or unwitting, Justin Trudeau looks more and more like a new North American hero.

    I wonder if any part of his speech was delivered in French.

  • -5

    elephant200

    It seems he dont like to deal with TRUMP.

  • -5

    pointofview

    @inkochi,

    Far from a hero. More like a manipulator.

  • 1

    Aly Rustom

    While the Canadian prime minister acknowledged there may be differences in perspectives on how to approach that and denounced the politics of fear at a time of great anxiety across the world, he made no criticism of Trump. “What I saw from the American president, was a focus on getting things done,” he said.

    Trudeau is such a classy guy.

    It seems he dont like to deal with TRUMP.

    No one does except Putin, Abe and maybe Dutarte. A wack pack if there ever was one.

  • 1

    Strangerland

    Trudeau is such a classy guy.

    He's a smart guy. He can't choose the American president. He can't directly influence his policy. He can't change his laws. He can only influence law in Canada. His role with the American president is to ensure smooth relations between the two countries. Let the Canadian people criticize Trump (as they are), and ensure a smooth relationship between Canada and America (as he is). That's good leadership.

  • -1

    Aly Rustom

    He's a smart guy. He can't choose the American president. He can't directly influence his policy. He can't change his laws. He can only influence law in Canada. His role with the American president is to ensure smooth relations between the two countries. Let the Canadian people criticize Trump (as they are), and ensure a smooth relationship between Canada and America (as he is). That's good leadership.

    agree 100%. But in addition to everything you've said, he's also classy. What other world leaders stood there in their nation's airports and welcomed refugees coming here? Here's a guy who stands in the airport giving gifts and toys to the poor children of syria and welcoming them to his country, while the brute down south bans them and builds walls. Not only did he let them in, he personally welcomed them. Now that's class. AND like you said, he's very smart. He's in a very tough position with his country sharing borders with Trump and Putin. I wish him luck.

  • 0

    M3M3M3

    I wonder if any part of his speech was delivered in French.

    It was about 50/50 French and English, as one would expect from a Canadian PM.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJBncUjpml0

    What other world leaders stood there in their nation's airports and welcomed refugees coming here?

    Aly, you might disagree but there is actually a legitimate reason why most world leaders have refrained from turning refugee arrivals into a media spectacle. The refugees are supposed to be enemies of the state who are on the run and in serious danger of persecution. Having Justin take selfies with them at the airport and advertising their new country of residence is not exactly the most responsible thing to be doing (for either their own safety or the safety of friends, acquaintances or relatives they've left behind). As classy as Trudeau is, he was definetly ill-advised on this.

  • 0

    TrevorPeace

    @Aly, you mention something a lot of people miss, when commenting on Canada's border with the US, which is still the longest 'unarmed' border in the world...you've obviously taken a look down from directly over the north pole; across that ocean and ice, Canada and Russia are face-to-face and that's why NORAD exists. It's funny (almost) how often we read in JT of Japanese military aircraft being scrambled to shadow Chinese military aircraft, but seldom do we read of Canadian fighters scrambling to shadow Russian aircraft, in spite of the fact it happens on occasion.

  • -1

    Aly Rustom

    Trevor, excellent point brother

  • 0

    JeffLee

    " free and fair trade/freedom of movement are the way to go compared to the current isolationist tendencies (pointing finger at you UK/USA)."

    If it weren't for UK/USA, free trade in its current form today wouldn't exist. The current trade arrangements and "free movement" in China, S. Korea, Japan and many, many others are far more rigid, protectionist and isolationist than what Trump or the Brexiteers are proposing. And the global community seems fine with that.

    How many countries DONT deport people who have been caught after sneaking across their borders? Certainly not Japan, to name just one. Perspective, please.

  • 1

    Zodiac

    The EU will be holding the strings in this deal if it comes to pass Canada can only dream but Trudeau is certainly beter than Harper by a landslide.

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