MONTREAL – Germany’s economy minister said on Thursday he expected the country’s Social Democrats, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, to vote in favour of a free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union at a party meeting on Sept. 19.
“We will get a majority vote,” German Vice Chancellor and Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters in Montreal.
Canada and Europe have spent years negotiating the trade deal, called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. Canada Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Monday the Canadian government hoped to sign the deal in October.
It faces opposition from anti-globalization groups, as well as some members of Gabriel’s SDP party. Freeland said she would attend the SDP conference in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Monday, where she will highlight the deal’s progressive elements.
Gabriel said it would not be necessary to reopen negotiations for the agreement. He also said clarifications made in talks with Canada would help address the concerns of German trade unions.
“There is no renegotiation of CETA and Sigmar and I discussed that,” Freeland said.
Separately, Freeland there were no plans to change the parts of the trade deal relating to the Canadian dairy industry.
The deal, reached by negotiators two years ago after five years of talks, could get the green light from EU member states next month before it is signed during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Brussels on Oct. 27.
(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson in Toronto; Editing by G Crosse and Peter Cooney)