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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canada and EU free trade deal clears major hurdle with deal on final text

OTTAWA - Negotiators working on Canada's free trade deal with the European Union have finalized the long-awaited text of the agreement.

The final wording comes after months of negotiation and disagreements over a wide-ranging series of issues that included investor protection from lawsuits as well as dairy agricultural quotas.

A statement from Trade Minister Ed Fast says finalizing the text is another important step forward.

The provinces are now being consulted in the details and the deal will also go to the EU’s 28 countries for feedback.

The federal government has made the deal with Europe a centrepiece of its economic agenda; Prime Minister Stephen Harper all but declared victory in Brussels last October when the two sides struck a deal in principle.

The agreement, which would give Canada favoured access to Europe’s $17-trillion economy, has been the subject of much speculation, but federal officials say 98 per cent of the tariffs between the partners would drop to zero when the deal comes into force.

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