The Brexit vote is spurring European Union leaders to ratify and enact a trade pact with Canada, the country’s trade minister says.
Chrystia Freeland said in an interview Monday she spoke with her counterparts in the aftermath of the U.K.’s referendum last week and found resolve had strengthened to finalize the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada.
“They are more enthusiastic than ever about CETA and, when you think about it, it’s easy to understand why. Now is a moment when it’s very important for Europe to show that Europe is able to act, is able to do a great deal with a great partner,” Freeland told Bloomberg TV Canada’s Pamela Ritchie.
Canada and the EU agreed to changes to the pact this year, strengthening government powers in disputes with investors in a bid to smooth its passing in Europe.
It’s possible the U.K. will still benefit from the pact, as the timeline for actually leaving the EU could drag on for years, Freeland said.
“CETA ratification is on a much faster track. We’re anticipating that CETA will be signed in the fall and will be ratified early next year,” Freeland said. “There has been absolutely no interest -- none at all -- from any of our European counterparts in reopening CETA in any way.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau spoke out against Brexit before the vote, warning it would have economic consequences and that negotiating a separate free trade pact with the U.K. would be no simple feat. After the referendum, Trudeau said Canada was well positioned to weather the market turmoil and would “continue to build relations with both” parties.