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VIENNA Oct 14 Austria will not stand in the way
of a trade agreement between the European Union and Canada,
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said on Friday, removing a
potential obstacle to the accord after suggesting he might block
Kern, who took over as head of Austria's centrist coalition
government in May, raised objections to the deal in August when
it was all but complete, arguing that some of its elements could
lead to watering down food, employment and other standards and
give foreign companies leverage over governments.
He has since pushed for a delay to the introduction of
tribunals aimed at settling disputes between investors and
governments. He has also sought to spell out limits to the
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, its formal name, in
a declaration that will not be part of the agreement's text and
might not be legally binding, as he had hoped.
"We in Austria will not hinder the signing of CETA or the
broader process," he told a news conference after he got the
backing of his Social Democratic Party's leadership, but he said
the leadership had demanded clarifications on a range of issues.
A major obstacle to CETA remains in Belgium, where the
parliament of the French-speaking region of Wallonia backed a
motion on Friday to keep the federal government from signing the
deal. EU trade ministers are due to vote on CETA on Tuesday and
have signalled they are seeking unanimous support.
Kern had said a ruling on Thursday by Germany's
Constitutional Court on appeals by opponents of CETA would
influence whether the agreement went through. The court rejected
the appeals, under certain conditions .
(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Larry King)