Minister of International Trade Mary Ng watches pre-recorded footage from an earlier videoconference that she participated in with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, during a news conference on the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement in Ottawa, on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Minister of International Trade Mary Ng watches pre-recorded footage from an earlier videoconference that she participated in with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, during a news conference on the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement in Ottawa, on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

VIDEO: Canada, Britain ink new trade deal, beating Brexit, incorporating expiring EU pact

Trudeau said the new pact sent a strong message about the importance of global trade.

Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada’s current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries. Saturday’s interim pact, announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1

But few details were released about the new interim agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released.

“This is a good moment,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he announced the deal during a video news conference with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson.

“Free trade is an important part of the way we’re going to bounce back from COVID,” Johnson said. “And using that, this is a moment in which to tackle climate change, but also to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in green technologies.”

The two leaders spoke on a shared video screen as they prepared to join their fellow G20 leaders at the start of their two-day virtual video summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.

The G20, which includes the non-democratic countries of China and Russia as well as the large economies of India and Brazil, is facing its greatest challenge since it rose to prominence in 2008 to battle the Great Recession – rebooting a global economy decimated by COVID-19.

Trudeau said the new pact sent a strong message about the importance of global trade.

“This continued sign of our collaboration, co-operation, and deep, deep friendship and partnership is really important not just for people in our two countries, but people around the world as well,” he said.

Britain’s decision to leave the EU after its Brexit referendum means that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, will no longer apply to the country at the end of the year.

The new deal preserves CETA’s key provision — the elimination of tariffs on 98 per cent of Canadian exports to Britain — until a more comprehensive agreement can be reached later. Britain is Canada’s fifth-largest trading partner, with $29 billion in two-way merchandise trade in 2019.

International Trade Minister Mary Ng said legislation would be introduced in Parliament soon so the interim deal could be ratified. Ng noted that Canada did not give Britain any additional market access to British cheese, preserving the status quo of the country’s supply management system.

Canada’s dairy industry has complained loudly in the past about the additional foreign access to the Canadian market under previous trade deals, including CETA and the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement.

Ng and her British counterpart, Liz Truss, committed to negotiating a new and more comprehensive agreement in the coming year. Ng said the new deal would explore co-operation around women’s economic empowerment, the environment and digital trade.

Conservative trade critic Tracy Gray accused the government of presenting an “11th-hour trade deal” that was temporary and would require more negotiation.

“We will do our due diligence as expected by Canadians to study the enacting legislation for this transitional agreement to ensure it is a good deal for Canada and does not leave Canadian exporters worse off compared to CETA,” Gray said.

Canada’s business community offered a mixed reaction, welcoming the economic certainty the interim deal offered while asking for more specifics.

Mark Agnew, the international policy director for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, called on both governments to publish the full details of their agreement.

But he said MPs must work towards “prompt passage of the necessary legislation to ” provide certainty for Canadian businesses.

Dan Darling, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, described the deal as “a welcome stop gap.” But he also called on the government to fix the market-access obstacles that Canadian producers have faced under the current EU deal.

“For other agri-food exporters, a transitional arrangement simply reinforces a situation that remains unacceptable under CETA,” he said.

“That is why we are urging both parties to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible in order to reach a comprehensive and more ambitious pact that removes tariffs and non-tariff barriers.”

Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, said the transitional deal will prevent a disruption of Canada-British trade, but noted he wanted to see its specific terms.

“In the future, we believe there is an opportunity to enhance our bilateral trade and investment ties even further with a comprehensive and ambitious free trade deal,” Hyder said.

Canada and Britain have operated under an 11-month transition phase since the European country left the EU at the end of January. For Canada, the transition has meant CETA continued to apply to its trade relations with Britain.

Canadian and British negotiators have been meeting since the summer to strike a new deal.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BrexitUnited Kingdom

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

GIF
’90s rock band resurfaces with songs never properly recorded or released

Underwater Sunshine’s online reunion involves four guys who lost contact for years

Tim Siebert, one half of the partnership behind Citrus & Cane, says opening the Douglas Street cocktail lounge during a pandemic had challenges, but the bar is ready to adapt to whatever comes next. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
New Victoria tropical cocktail lounge designed with COVID-19 safety in mind

Citrus & Cane opens in site of former Copper Owl after eight-month delay

Kennedy Nikel, applied marine biologist at Cascadia Seaweed, here seen in late September, shows off bull kelp (in her left hand) and rock weed. The company is spear-heading an annual seaweed festival scheduled for May 13-21, 2021, with Sidney council have signed off in principle. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Cascadia hopes to see Sidney host seaweed festival in May 2021

Council supports the idea in principle following a presentation by Cascadia Seaweed

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read