Canada says UK rollover trade deal will be far easier than Brexit talks

James Crisp
·3 min read
Justin Trudeau said the rollover would be the basis for a new UK-Canada free trade agreement - AFP
Justin Trudeau said the rollover would be the basis for a new UK-Canada free trade agreement - AFP

Canada promised a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain would be easy to agree on Thursday, as Brussels said UK-EU negotiations had entered a “critical” phase.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau predicted that a rollover deal with Britain to replace the EU-Canada trade agreement after Brexit will be “straightforward”.

It will form the basis of a new UK-EU deal after Britain falls out of the EU-Canada deal when it leaves the transition period at the end of the year, he said.

He stressed Ottawa wanted a trade deal with Brexit Britain and that it would be much simpler than the ongoing trade talks with Brussels.

Mr Trudeau was speaking at a press conference after an EU-Canada video-summit with the presidents of the European Commission and Council.

Watch: 63 days until the end of the transition period

He said, “There are significant complexities that the UK sorry grappling with in terms of negotiating the post Brexit agreement with the European Union.

“I can highlight that it's fairly straightforward with Canada and we are certainly very optimistic in the ability to see things roll over smoothly,“ he said.

“There have been many discussions over the past years between myself and Prime Minister Johnson and his predecessor on that seamless transition,” Mr Trudeau added.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European commission, said she was in hourly contact with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator.

She said intensified talks with Britain, which resume on Friday in Brussels, were in a “critical phase”.

“We're making good progress but on two critical issues, the level playing field, and the fisheries, there we would like to see more progress,” she said.

Mrs von der Leyen said the level playing field guarantees were the price for zero tariff access to the Single Market.

“We are now in depth in detailing out how could we construct a system that is fair for both sides for a level playing field,” she said.

How to construct the system with clear rules on both sides and a dispute mechanism system was a “crucial” question negotiations would delve deep into in the coming days of negotiations, she said.

Britain had previously rejected EU demands for stricter level playing field guarantees and argued that all it wanted was a "Canada-style" trade deal with non-enforceable commitments.

Boris Johnson with Mrs von der Leyen earlier this year.  - AFP
Boris Johnson with Mrs von der Leyen earlier this year. - AFP

The UK negotiating team arrived in Brussels on Thursday, with Belgium on the verge of a coronavirus lockdown.

Both sides were conducting in-depth negotiations in London for the previous seven days and are aiming to conclude a deal by a mid-November deadline. That would allow time for the agreement to be ratified before the end of the transition period and prevent a no deal Brexit.

“We'll have the occasion, probably next week to assess what's the situation,” said Charles Michel, the European Council President.

In London, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss insisted the NHS will not be compromised for a post Brexit trade deal with the US.

Ms Truss said Britain would reject a Donald Trump-style "Britain First" approach and wanted a "values-driven free trade agenda".

Ms Truss said: "Our red lines remain at the heart of this values-driven approach. Namely, our NHS remains off the table.

“Our food standards must not be undermined and British farming must benefit. And any trade deal must level-up our country."

With less than a week to go before the US presidential election, Ms Truss said that at a time of "America First" and the EU's "strategic autonomy", the UK "will not be pulling up the drawbridge in an autarkic Britain First approach".

She branded the EU "innovation-phobic" with "its high tariff wall".

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