BRUSSELS — Canada and the European Union were set to finalize Friday a landmark free trade agreement meant to boost growth and employment. European officials hope the pact will also inject momentum in talks on a much larger, but more challenging, trade deal with the U.S.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso were expected to hash out the final details in Brussels before announcing the tentative deal, which has been negotiated since 2009.
The agreement would make it easier for Canadian companies to invest in and sell to the 28-member EU and its 500 million consumers, and vice versa. The deal will lower tariffs, streamline regulation and cut red tape that hampers trade.
The European Union, a $17 trillion economy, is Canada's second-largest trading partner behind the U.S. The deal would also help reduce the dependence of Canada's $1.8 trillion economy on imports from the U.S.