French PM defends Ceta trade deal on visit to Canada, despite lawmakers' rejection

Canada  Patrick DoyleAFP
© Patrick Doyle/AFP

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau defended the free-trade agreement between the European Union and Canada, which Attal called a “win-win deal” for both sides, but whose full implementation has been stalled by French lawmakers.

"Ceta is a win-win deal," Attal said on Thursday at a news conference with Trudeau in Ottawa during a three-day visit to Canada, insisting that the deal, which was approved at the EU level, still applies despite French lawmakers rejection.

“Since it came into force, trade between our two countries has progressed by more than a third,” Attal said, adding that the deal has been particularly beneficial to French farmers.

Following weeks of protests by farmers against free trade policies they say hurt their bottom line, the French Senate last month voted against ratifying the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which was approved by the European parliament in early 2017.

Attal said that French lawmakers would be asked to vote again on the ratification, without giving any details.

Trudeau said Canada would continue to “demonstrate the positive impact on citizens of trade and responsible commerce between friends and allies who share the same values.”

France is one of ten European countries that have not ratified the agreement, which includes preferential access to Canadian minerals, such as uranium or lithium, which are critical for energy transition.

Trade between the EU and Canada has increased since the war in Ukraine, as European countries substituted Russian imports for Canadian products.

During Attal's visit, the two leaders talked about the war in Ukraine, as well as the crisis in Haiti and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

(with newswires)