Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said a trade deal with the UK could be finalised by the end of 2020, but said the ball was in the UK’s court, and it may not have the “bandwidth” to see it through.
"I think we're ready to have it done before January 1," he told an online conference hosted by the Financial Times, a Reuters report said, but added: "The UK hasn't had to negotiate trade deals in the past few decades so there is an issue of not really having the bandwidth within government to move forward on this.”
He went on to say that Canada is “there for it, we'd like to do it, so I'm very hopeful that it's going to get done, but that is really up to the UK government."
Trudeau said last month says he was positive about rolling the current terms of the trade deal Canada has with the EU over to an agreement with the UK.
Under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, 95% of the imports covered are tariff and quota-free.
When the UK leaves the EU, it will lose the benefits that comes with being part of the bloc — unified tariffs and trading conditions with 27 other nations, and it now has to work out separate deals.
Trudeau had said earlier: “There have been many discussions over the past years between myself and [UK] Prime Minister [Boris] Johnson and his predecessor on that seamless transition on a rollover of the CETA between Canada and the European Union to be the basis for a Canada-UK free-trade that would allow certainty for Canadian and British companies going into the future.”
The UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal was signed with Japan in September. The government said in a press release it marked a step towards the UK joining a wider trade bloc in the Asia-Pacific region. The deal agreed with Japan will see tariff-free trade on 99% of UK exports to the country, with officials predicting a £1.5bn ($1.9bn) boost to the UK economy “in the long run.”
Meanwhile, a trade deal with the US continues to be a top priority for the UK. However, Johnson’s politics are more aligned with Donald Trump’s and with Biden now in charge, there will be a real test of the well-recognised “special relationship” between the UK and US, especially when it comes to Brexit.
And the EU and UK have yet to agree a trade deal, increasing the possibility of a disruptive and abrupt end to the transition, which is set to end on 1 January 2021.
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