Monday 7 September 2020 1:50 pm

UK-Canada trade deal back in focus as talks restart

Hopes of securing a post-Brexit free trade deal with Canada were given a boost today after trade secretary Liz Truss announced the UK had kickstarted discussions.

“Trade talks with Canada have commenced,” Truss wrote in a tweet. “The aim is to provide continuity for businesses by the end of the transition period.

“Both the UK and Canada are committed to protecting & strengthening our £19.7bn trading relationship.”

Canada withdrew from trade talks early last year after the UK outlined a temporary regime that would have cut tariffs on almost all imports.

But the government revised its tariff strategy in May, putting a deal back on the table. Ministers are hoping to reach an agreement by the end of the year.

It follows negotiations over free trade agreements [FTAs] with Australia and New Zealand, which commenced back in June.

More than £21bn worth of goods and services were traded between UK businesses and both countries last year.

While the government has repeatedly stated its intentions of becoming an independent trading nation, its plans have been called into question.

Ministers were forced to defend the recent appointment of Tony Abbott, former Prime Minister of Australia, to the board of trade.

While the former Australian prime minister has been criticised for past comments on women and climate change, the health secretary described Abbott as a “trade expert”.

Meanwhile, a Financial Times report revealed the government is planning to use the Internal Market Bill, due to be published on Wednesday, to override the withdrawal agreement on issues surrounding Northern Ireland and state aid.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has continuously reiterated his desire to strike an “Australian-style” free trade agreement with the EU, pledging to walk away from talks if a deal cannot be struck by the European Council meeting on 15 October.