STRASBOURG, France (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday hailed the 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 "blue-print" for future trade deals and the outcome of Europe's and Canada's shared history and values.
Critics fear the pact gives too much power to multinationals and hope that it will be blocked by national and regional parliaments in the EU.
Trudeau sought to allay those 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 its 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, which could take provisional effect as early as April, 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.
Backers of the deal have hailed it as victory of openness over protectionism and stagnation at a time when many, including the U.S., are moving in that direction.