Italy's agri min Centinaio: will not ratify free trade agreement with Canada

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Italy's agri min Centinaio: will not ratify free trade agreement with Canada

She was responding to reports that Italy's Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio said Thursday the Italian government would ask the parliament not to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) since it does not ensure sufficient protection for the country's speciality foods.

Italy now enjoys a trade surplus with Canada to the tune of €3bn, exporting not only food but also ceramic tiles, textiles and furniture.

A Global News/Ipsos poll released Saturday finds that Trudeau enjoys a 20-point advantage over the USA president among Americans when it comes to which leader respondents think is better handling the discussions over tariffs and other trade issues. A spokesman for Francois-Philippe Champagne says the worldwide trade minister visited Italy a few days ago to pitch the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, or CETA, to Italy's populist government, which took power on June 1.

The development adds to Canada's significant trade challenges - which already include deep uncertainty surrounding the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement and hefty steel and aluminium tariffs imposed recently by the United States. In a statement issued on June 14, the group backed Centinaio's decision, saying CETA was "wrong and risky" for Italy.

She said the two agreed to continue NAFTA negotiations with Mexico this summer, despite a looming election in that country, but didn't set any dates.

NAFTA talks have been on hold for weeks after a push for a quick deal ended with no agreement.

The poll showed 72 percent of Canadians and 57 percent of Americans approved of the way Trudeau had handled the situation, while 14 percent of Canadians and 37 percent of Americans approved of Trump's behavior. He points out that Italy exports three times more to Canada than it imports. "We talked about following up on setting up specific dates for meetings and that is what we are going to do", she said.

Champagne made a case to Italy about the deal's benefits, his spokesman Pierre-Oliver Herbert wrote in an email Thursday.

The CETA agreement ended 98 percent of tariffs on goods at the outset and will eliminate 99 percent after seven years (each side plans to dismantle all industrial tariffs and more than 90 per cent of agricultural duties). The deal was settled in 2016 after years of talks, but all European Union nations must now vote on it independently.

"We want every worker to know this is a deal that puts them first".

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