Horizon blog: Talks commence on UK-Canada free trade deal

Thursday, 24 March 2022

The UK and Canada have launched negotiations on a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Ottawa today (24 March 2022). Our senior strategic insight manager Sarah Baker takes a look at the key factors affecting UK agriculture negotiators will be thinking about as talks commence.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan will meet with her counterpart, Canadian Minister for International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng, to formally launch talks that aim to bring benefits for both countries and strengthen a trading relationship already worth over £19 billion in 2020. 

The Canada/UK FTA is of particular importance to the UK as it will support the UK’s commitment to increasing economic ties with the Indo Pacific region. The UK is also negotiating to join CPTPP, a trade agreement among AustraliaBruneiCanadaChileJapanMalaysiaMexicoNew ZealandPeruSingapore and Vietnam. The eleven signatories have combined economies representing 13.4 per cent of global gross domestic product, at approximately US$13.5 trillion, making the CPTPP one of the world's largest free-trade areas by GDP.

The overall objectives of the negotiations from a UK perspective are to build on the UK-Canada Trade Continuity Agreement (an interim arrangement post-Brexit) and secure greater benefits for UK businesses.

For agriculture in particular, the overarching negotiation objectives are:

Trade in Goods

  • Secure comprehensive access for UK agricultural goods into the Canadian market through the reduction or elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers

Rules of Origin

  • Develop simple and modern rules of origin that reflect UK industry requirements and consider existing, as well as future supply chains, supported by predictable and low-cost administrative arrangements

Customs and Trade facilitation

  • Secure commitments to efficient and transparent customs procedures that aim to minimise administrative burdens and associated costs for businesses
  • Ensure that customs procedures are predictable before, at and away from the border

Technical barriers to trade

  • Continue to reduce technical barriers to trade by removing and preventing trade-restrictive measures in goods markets, while upholding the safety and quality of products and the UK’s right to regulate in this area of public interest
  • Promote the use of international standards to further facilitate trade between the parties

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)

  • Uphold the UK’s high standards of food safety, animal and plant health, and animal welfare, as well as the UK’s right to regulate in these areas of public interest
  • Facilitate access for UK agri-food goods to the Canadian market by securing commitment for dialogue, cooperation and transparency on SPS measures, including Canadian approval processes for UK goods
  • Seek enhanced cooperation on the related matters of public interest of animal welfare and antimicrobial resistance

In addition, the negotiating objectives for Environment and Climate will:

  • Ensure provisions that support and help further the governments’ ambition on environment, climate change and achieve our shared goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
  • Maintain the UK’s right to regulate to meet environmental objectives, including on climate change. Affirm commitments to Multilateral Environmental Agreements such as UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement
  • Ensure that parties do not waive, derogate from of fail to enforce their domestic environment laws in ways that create an artificial competitive advantage

 AHDB will be monitoring the progress of the negotiations and analysing what it may mean for UK agriculture over the coming months. To keep up to date with our analysis and insight, please visit our Trade and Policy pages here on the AHDB website.


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