Patience paid off for Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed a free trade agreement with the European Union on Sunday.
Trudeau signed the treaty along with the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker.
Trudeau had hoped to sign the treaty in Brussels days ago, but it was nearly thwarted by the the Belgian region of Wallonia nearly because its opposition to the pact’s investor-state dispute settlement mechanism gave it a veto under Belgium’s complicated constitution.
The deal was saved with a breakthrough last Thursday and confirmed by regional parliamentary votes on Friday.
While speaking at a news conference following the signing, Trudeau said Wallonia’s last minute delay didn’t bother him.
“Hard things are hard,” he said. “We are confident that demonstrating that trade is good for the middle classes (…) will make sure that everybody gets that this is a good thing for our economies and that it is also a good thing for the world,” Trudeau told reporters.
WATCH: Trudeau says CETA will grow jobs and increase wages in Canada
It’s now believed a provisional implementation of the pact could begin in early 2017 with the removal of most import duties. Full ratification will take much longer.
The treaty must still be approved by the House of Commons, European Parliament and all 28 member states of the EU. The path to approval is easiest in Canada, where both the federal Liberals and Conservatives will vote for it.
“We are setting standards which will determine globalization in the coming years,” Juncker said while speaking alongside Trudeau. “Nothing in other trade agreements will be able to remain below the level of what we have reached today with Canada.”
Legislation will need to be implemented in all provinces and territories to change the necessary laws to bring the agreement into force.
The Liberal government in Ontario wasted little time welcoming the treaty.
International Trade Minister Michael Chan issued a statement saying he was “thrilled” Trudeau signed the agreement. Chan says lowering trade barriers between Canada and the EU will eventually result in the creation of 30,000 new Ontario jobs and a $4.5 billion boost to the province’s GDP.
Chan noted Ontario’s exports to European Union countries totalled more than $19 billion dollars last year, making the EU the province’s second largest trading partner.
WATCH ABOVE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Brussels for a Canada-EU summit where he has signed the CETA free trade deal.
Supporters say CETA will increase Canadian-EU trade by 20 percent and boost Canada’s economy by $12 billion a year and the EU’s by 12 billion euros a year.
The deal will eliminate tariffs on almost 99 percent of goods. The beneficiaries would include, for example, carmakers or the EU textile sector, for which Canadian duties of up to 18 percent can be imposed at present.
Service companies could also benefit and EU companies would be able to tender for public contracts at Canadian provincial and municipal level.
Canada would be able to send larger quotas of pork, beef and wheat to the EU market, and EU dairy producers would be able to export more than double the current amount of “high quality” cheeses to Canada.
The deal with Canada is the EU’s first trade pact with a G7 country. It’s hoped it will open the door to a larger deal for the EU with the United States.