Categorized | Canadian Politics

U.K. Wants Free Trade Deal With Canada, High Commissioner Says

Posted on 29 June 2016 by admin

Britain’s high commissioner is open to signing a free trade deal with Canada now that the United Kingdom has opted out of the European Union.

Howard Drake said Britain will go it alone on trade agreements after the Brexit vote, adding the U.K. will not cease to be a trading nation after it pulls out of the EU.

“We’re an island. We’ll be strongly pro-free trade outside the European Union,” he said in an interview with Chris Hall on CBC Radio’s The House.

“We’ll be looking to make trade deals with other countries around the world, including Canada. Other countries that are currently outside the EU do have very good trading relationships and trade agreements with other countries, so we can be the same. We have a lot to bring to the party,” he said, noting Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world.

‘It’s not a disaster’

Despite the shock vote, Canada and the EU are still in the final stages of concluding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which was hammered out by the former Harper government and vocally supported by Liberal International Trade Minister ChrystiaFreeland.

Britain was a big backer of the deal, but it now risks being left out of the final agreement if it opts out of the EU before its impending enactment.

It’s not the only deal that could be dead in the water after the Brexit vote. There are nearly 40 trade deals between the EU and other jurisdictions the world over.

“Great Britain now has to negotiate its own agreement with Canada.… That’s a complicated process,” Werner Wnendt, the German ambassador to Canada, said in a separate interview with Hall.

Wnendt said Britain’s departure will not leave Canada without a friend around the table in Brussels, adding Germany sees little or no change to the bilateral relationship.

“It’s not a disaster. It’s doable. The immediate impact on our relationship, Germany’s relationship, or the Canada-EU relationship, will not be that visible. We will go ahead with strengthening our relationship.”

Jean Charest, the former premier of Quebec, and an early supporter of CETA, said it now falls to the French to pick up the pieces.

“One irony about [CETA] is that the British were never, at the outset, very involved in the deal,” he said.

“Actually it was the French government of [former president] Jacques Chirac who was the first government to support the negotiations. I’ve been pushing personally that the French appropriate their ownership of this deal and move ahead,” he said. “It must go ahead.”

Canadian Tories voice support for Leave

A number of prominent members of Canadian Conservatives voiced their support for Leave during the referendum campaign, including Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenney.

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