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Canada Urges ‘Ambition’ to Finish Trade Pact With Europe in 2012

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Canada’s trade minister said he’s confident his country can still reach a free-trade agreement with the European Union this year as long as both sides are motivated to do so.

“I’ve always said we’re aiming to complete negotiations in 2012 and as long as both parties bring a high level of ambition and goodwill to the table, I’m confident that we’re going to be able to conclude these negotiations soon,” Trade Minister Ed Fast told reporters in Ottawa today.

The EU and Canada started talks toward a free-trade pact in May 2009.

“We’re now down to the final few issues left to be negotiated. These are intense discussions but we are making significant progress,” he said.

Fast said he plans to meet “very soon” with his counterpart in Quebec, where the separatist Parti Quebecois won a minority government in an election Sept. 4.

“These are the most collaborative negotiations Canada has ever undertaken to the extent that the provinces and territories have actually been at the table when it comes to negotiations in their jurisdictions,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Mayeda in Ottawa at amayeda@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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