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Freeland, EU minister celebrate landmark trade deal

Last Updated Sep 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm EST

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland gestures to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini before a meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, Thursday September 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland hugged and thanked her European counterpart today as Canada and the European Union marked the entry into force today of a trade agreement that took a decade to complete.

“Grazie mille,” Freeland said in Italian as she embraced Federica Mogherini of the EU at the start of a meeting at the United Nations.

“It is a very important day, for Canada and I think for Europe,” Freeland said. “And also for the rules-based international trading order. And for progressive trade.”

Mogherini, Europe’s high representative for foreign affairs, credited Freeland’s work for getting the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement across the finish line.

“Because without your optimism, your energy, your determination, I think it would have been a lot harder to get to this result,” she told Freeland. “It’s a special day.”

The two ministers had a trilingual chat, in English, French and Italian.

The agreement involved different Canadian governments over many years. The Stephen Harper Conservatives closed the deal with the EU and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals worked out changes that helped get it implemented

The agreement only enters into force provisionally, with portions, such as investment protection, still requiring endorsement by participating legislatures.

But Freeland and Mogherini said it stands as an accomplishment.

“Because together we have just shown, I think, to the international system that (our) partnership can bring positive results,” Mogherini said.

“It’s about free and fair trade. And I’m sure it will continue to be on many things that are common priorities for us: multilateralism, climate change, the fact that we see diversity in our cultures and societies as a value, not as a threat.”

The CETA deal comes into effect as world trade grows.

An International Monetary Fund report this year concluded the volume of global trade increased 2.2 per cent in 2016, and is projected to grow 3.8 per cent and 3.9 per cent this year and next.