BRUSSELS/LUXEMBOURG-- The European Union and Canada have agreed a multi-billion-dollar trade pact integrating two of the world's largest economies, said a Reuters report.
The deal makes Canada the only G8 country - and one of the only developed nations anywhere - to have preferential access to the world's two largest markets, the EU and the United States, home to a total of 800 million people, said the report.
Talks were launched in May 2009 but stalled for months over quotas for Canadian beef and EU cheese. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso met in Brussels on Friday to resolve outstanding issues.
"This is the biggest deal our country has ever made," Harper said, adding that it outstripped the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
"This agreement is a landmark achievement for the transatlantic market," Barroso told a news conference. "With political will and a good dose of hard work, there is a way to reach a result that benefits people on both sides of the Atlantic," he said.
The deal marks a breakthrough for Brussels' free-trade agenda, and is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods and services by a fifth to 25.7 billion euros ($35 billion) a year, according to the latest EU estimates.
Barroso said he hoped the agreement could come into effect from 2015, after EU governments, the European Parliament and the Canadian provinces give their blessing.