Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European leaders have signed Canada’s free-trade deal with the European Union in Brussels.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known as CETA, was signed on Sunday morning, following a series of delays that nearly scuttled the deal last week.
The socialist government of the Belgian region of Wallonia initially opposed the deal, but officially voted to withdraw its opposition on Friday.
Officials were set to sign the deal on Saturday but had to reschedule when Trudeau’s Belgium-bound plane returned to Ottawa about 30 minutes after it took off because of mechanical problems involving the plane’s flaps.
Supporters of the CETA say it will boost trade by billions through cuts in tariffs across a broad swath of sectors including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and the auto industry.
Trudeau had initially expected to sign the deal in Brussels earlier this week, but the restive Belgian region of Wallonia put the brakes on that plan by standing in lone opposition to the controversial deal.
Wallonia held a veto over Belgium’s ability to support the deal, which requires the support of all 28 EU countries.
In recent weeks, the tiny French-speaking region of 3.5 million people opposed the deal’s investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, with the support of other European politicians and anti-trade activists.
An agreement Thursday give national and regional parliaments throughout Europe new powers over those controversial investor protection provisions, prompting warnings from some observers that the pact remains a fragile one.