Fed trade minister meets with Wallonia leader in effort to save CETA deal

OTTAWA – Federal Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland met Wednesday with the head of Wallonia in an effort to save a trade deal with the European Union that could collapse if the small Belgium region does not support it by Friday.

A spokeswoman for Freeland says she met with Wallonia President Paul Magnette, who earlier Wednesday said his region could not sign on to the deal by Friday, which has been set as a deadline to get the last of the 28 EU nations on board.

Anne-Louise Chauvette says the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, also known as CETA, is a priority for the federal government and it is working hard with its European partners so that it can be approved and implemented next year.

The Wallonia vote has created headaches for Belgium’s national government because its constitution gives its three regional governments — Wallonia being one of them — a potential veto over CETA, which has been seven years in the making.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to fly to Brussels next week to sign the agreement should it be unanimously approved by the EU.

— With files from the Associated Press