French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 7, 2019. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool/REUTERS)

Trudeau thanks French president for EU-Canada free trade deal vote

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Emmanuel Macron Wednesday to thank the French president for the approval of the EU-Canada free trade deal by the lower chamber of French parliament, according to a press release by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The National Assembly voted Tuesday with 266 votes in favour, 213 against and 74 abstentions to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA).

The French Senate will vote on it in the autumn too but does not have the power to block it.

“CETA is already creating good, middle class jobs and providing new opportunities for people and businesses in Canada in France,” the statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The two leaders also talked about global economic issues and the preparations for the G7 meeting in Biarritz, in August, emphasizing the need for a close collaboration on dealing with current global challenges, including climate change, gender equality, peace and security, economic growth and the responsible development of artificial intelligence, the statement said.

The free trade deal was signed in October of 2016 and entered into provisional force in September 2017, sweeping away tariffs on 98 per cent of goods.

CETA will only enter into force fully and definitively, when all 28 EU member states have ratified the agreement.

France is the 14th EU country to approve CETA.

The EU is Canada’s second-biggest trading partner after the U.S. Last year Canada exported nearly $44.5 billion worth of goods to the EU, an increase of 7 per cent over 2017, according to government statistics. The EU in turn exported nearly $60 billion worth of goods to Canada, an increase of nearly 9 per cent over 2017, according to the European Commission statistics.

Canadian imports from France, in particular, have grown by 21 per cent in the first 18 months after the implementation of the agreement, and by 11 per cent in the agrifood sector, according to Global Affairs Canada.

Direct Canadian investments in France have increased by nearly 10 per cent in 2018.

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