BRUSSELS, Italy (Reuters) — Italy is in no hurry to bring the European Union’s free trade agreement with Canada to a parliamentary vote, its farm minister has said, suggesting its opposition to the deal may be easing.
Ministers of the eurosceptic 5-Star/League government have said Italy would not ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, threatening the EU’s first major trade deal since an EU-South Korean accord launched in 2011.
However, Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio told reporters in Brussels: “Nobody is in a hurry to bring CETA to the chamber.”
CETA took effect provisionally in September 2017 with the reduction or removal of tariffs on 98 percent of products but needs to be ratified by all 28 EU countries. Just one failure to ratify could bring the whole deal down.
According to the EU statistics office Eurostat, Italian exports to Canada have increased by 2.1 percent year-on-year in the eight months since CETA provisionally entered into force and its food and animal exports by 11.9 percent.
The government has said it will take a hard line on defending Italian speciality foods.
Under CETA, Canada has recognised more than 40 Italian protected designation of origin and protected geographical indication labels out of more than 200.
Centinaio said he wanted to check whether those not covered were exclusively local products that were unlikely to be exported to Canada. If that was not the case, Italy could push to add more.