As the prospect of a trade deal between Britain and the European Union collapses, there are growing doubts that a post-Brexit pact involving Canada could be finalized by the end of the year.
The UK leaves the EU on 31 January and is nearing the end of an 11-month implementation period in which the agreement remains essentially a status quo while the UK negotiates a more permanent agreement with the EU and other countries.
But talks between the UK and the EU have been going badly so far and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now preparing voters to enter 2021 without a trade agreement.
A deal between the two may take priority over negotiations with Canada, but Britain has agreed to several bilateral trade agreements in principle.
When the calendar changed, the UK was no longer included in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU.
Tracy Gray, a Conservative critic for export promotion and international trade, said the company is looking for certainty ahead of 2021.
“Right now we are at a stage where the deadline is approaching and we have a number of industries that are very concerned,” he said, noting nearly $ 20 billion in goods exported by Canada to the UK last year.
Last month, the British Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Confederation said in a joint release that “time is running out” to finalize the deal.
“The benefits that businesses have under CETA will disappear and without a trade deal, our two countries will enter into uncharted territory,” they said.
Mary Ng, the federal minister in charge of international trade, continued to say that the two sides were working to finalize a transitional agreement before the end of the year.
Responding to inquiries on the matter during the questioning period in September, Ng said he remains in close contact with Britain
While Britain says trade talks with Canada have started, opposition lawmakers like Gray argue Ng and the Liberal government are not transparent about the status of negotiations.
Earlier this year, the ruling Liberal Party agreed to notify lawmakers of any negotiations taking place within 90 days, but in mid-October, no notification was made.
Meanwhile, there is continued speculation that the UK will join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The free trade agreement currently covers 11 countries, including Canada.
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