As the United Kingdom prepares to begin its formal negotiations to leave the European Union, the British government is looking to the Commonwealth for new business opportunities, and reports indicate that Canada is at the front of the queue.
Global News Network in Canada is reporting that Canada is “at the front of the queue” for post-Brexit trade deals, following the first ever Commonwealth Trade Ministers’ Meeting in London last week.
The report affirms that CANZUK countries are top priority for the UK government, as Canada will now join Australia and New Zealand in being the first to establish trade deals following the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Trade Ministers from 30 Commonwealth countries met to discuss upcoming trade negotiations, with Canada represented by its Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne. Reports suggest that discussions were productive, with tremendous support for trade agreements advocated by the UK’s Secretary for International Trade, Liam Fox.
A recent poll in the UK asked 500 companies which of the 52 Commonwealth countries should take priority in trade talks. Overall, Australia came first, followed by Canada and Singapore. But Canada was the top choice for London-based businesses.
“We view (Brexit) as an opportunity for Canadian companies to enter UK supply chains,” said Stephen Wilhelm of Export Development Canada, which opened an office in London last year.
Sources close to the #UK ?? government confirm special #Brexit passport arrangements with #CAN ?? #AUS ?? #NZ ??https://t.co/cEfZoSy5E7
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“If we can get Canadian companies into UK supply chains, they may in fact benefit from UK companies looking to grow internationally, including those who have before been primarily reliant on the EU.”
Wilhelm noted that Canadian and British officials already have a blueprint for future trade talks, as Canada signed CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) with the European Union last year, which will remove 98% of tarrifs.
However, upon invoking Article 50, the United Kingdom will no longer be a party to CETA, allowing the government to negotiate its own trade deals with Canada, which will likely include immigration deals promoting visa liberalisation and freer movement.
There are over 1100 Canadian companies currently operating in the UK, all of whom will be eager for trade neogitations to begin as soon as possible. However, official discussions for a Canada-UK trade agreement will likely have to wait until after the Brexit negotiations are complete. The formal talks are expected to begin by the end of March and last up to two years.
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