Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, said Britain was struggling to secure a trade deal with his country before the Brexit transition ended on January 1st because it lacked “the bandwidth. “.
Trudeau said Canada is very experienced in concluding trade deals and is ready to strike a deal with the UK, extending the terms of the existing EU-Canada deal at the end of the transition period. .
“The UK has not had to negotiate trade deals over the past decades,” Trudeau told the Financial Times. “So there is a problem with not really having the bandwidth within government to go forward.
Liz Truss, Britain’s Secretary for International Trade, denies Britain does not have enough trade capabilities or negotiators to strike a deal, and her allies say she hopes to secure a deal across the country. line by January 1st.
“We are shooting all the cylinders,” said an aide. “We have over 700 employees in our trade policy group, which is way more than the office of the US trade representative.”
Britain currently trades with Canada under the terms of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement signed by Trudeau in 2016, which removed most tariffs on trade. Unless the Ceta terms are renewed, trade between Britain and Canada will revert to the World Trade Organization’s “lowest common denominator” terms, with new tariffs and trade barriers, on January 1st.
Britain is Canada’s fifth largest trading partner after the United States, China, Mexico and Japan, with more than US $20 billion in bilateral trade in 2017. It is important for the two countries to strike a deal agreement before January 1st.
Trudeau told the FT Global Boardroom conference on Wednesday that the two countries were “on the verge of a deal,” but said “one of the challenges is bandwidth.”
He said that Canada has a free trade agreement with all the other G7 countries, as well as a free trade agreement in North America and treaties with countries in the Pacific. “We know how to negotiate trade deals,” he said.
Mr Trudeau said he had offered some of his country’s expertise to Britain, which had not had to negotiate any trade deal since joining the EU in 1973 because Brussels was in charge of trade policy.
“I know that renewing and demonstrating free trade agreements for the UK government is extremely important,” he said.
“Canada is really easy. We are there for that. We would like to do it. So I hope it will, but it really depends on the UK government because we are here for it.
Ms Truss recently struck a trade deal with Japan and has renewed almost a dozen EU trade deals: Canada is the largest on hold, along with Mexico, Vietnam and Egypt.
“The fundamentals of the deal are agreed, there are only a few things to work out,” said an aide to Ms Truss. “We have made very reasonable offers to Canadians.
“The ball is probably more in their court than in ours. A deal is there to be made. Bandwidth is not an issue at all. ”
Moreover, Great Britain is seeking a “Canadian-style” free trade agreement with the EU, similar to that concluded between Brussels and Ottawa. Discussions continue this week in London, but are expected to continue next week.