Belgium's regional parliament in Wallonia, representing mostly French-speaking citizens in the bi-lingual country, has voted to accept a free trade deal between Canada and the European Union.
Fifty-eight of the parliament's 63 lawmakers voted to accept terms of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) Friday, reversing an earlier decision that had threatened to scupper the multi-billion dollar pact.
The vote should clear the way for Belgium's full parliament to ratify the trade deal, which requires approval from all of the European Union's 28 members.
A study, published in 2011 by both Canada and the EU, estimated CETA would lift trade between the two regions by 20%.
The vote also has potential implications for negotiations between the EU and the United Kingdom, which voted to leave the bloc on June 23. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she'll begin the process of withdraw no later than March of 2017.
Proponents of a so-called 'Hard Brexit', in which the U.K. would completely disengage from the EU and only trade on the basis of WTO rules, had pointed to the Wallonia decision as an example of the dysfunction of EU rules.
Belgium's Walloon region accounts for around a third of the country's population and less than a fifth of its exports to Canada. Belgium itself only accounts for a little more than 2.2% of the EU's 350 million citizens.