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May flies to Canada hoping to agree another copy & paste EU deal

A UK-Canada trade deal based on an EU-Canada deal highlights the value of EU trade deals. It also ties us close to the bloc we’re leaving.


Today, the prime minister heads to Canada to meet with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. The Financial Times reports she will be using the visit to focus on a future trade deal as well as the Boeing-Bombardier trade dispute. Regarding the latter, the dispute shows just how tricky international trade is – especially as a much smaller player post-Brexit. Theresa May will also, no doubt, be hoping (and failing) to put some distance between her and the recent article by her foreign secretary.

Another copy and paste job

The UK is due to leave the EU in March 2019 and if “no deal” on a transition deal is reached, it’s not just trade with the EU that will be at risk. The EU has trade deals with around 50 countries including the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, which will also be uncertain. Basically, Theresa May hopes to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with Canada that basically replicates the one it can enjoy as a member of the EU. As the Independent reports, should the UK leave the EU without a deal, the UK risks putting over £2bn worth of exports in jeopardy. This regards the additional trade the UK is set to do with Canada once CETA is in place.

Politico reports the two prime ministers are expected to agree that the EU-Canada deal has “significant potential to boost transatlantic prosperity – and should be swiftly transitioned to form a new bilateral arrangement between the UK and Canada after Brexit.” May’s visit to Japan was successful in securing a similar agreement.

Japan’s PM calls for May to “minimise damage” for businesses over Brexit

So not only does the UK believe the trade deals the EU has been able to secure are pretty good, it also wants to copy them.

It’s likely Theresa May will be able to hail her Canada visit as another success by getting an agreement to a UK-Canada deal based on the EU-Canada deal. After all, for Canada, it means there’s little difference to what it had expected if the EU remains a 28-nation bloc with the UK in it. They could also see Brexit as an opportunity to secure more concessions from the UK because without the rest of the EU, the UK will have less clout.

For the UK, this means committing to what the EU has helped to draw up without any say. It also makes it difficult for the UK to stray very far away from standards and regulations agreed in the EU-Canada deal. In his blog at politics.co.uk, Ian Dunt perfectly captures how these ‘copy and paste’ trade deals show what a farce the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy is. If you haven’t read it already, it’s definitely worth a read: May’s post-Brexit trade policy unravels in Japan.

Dunt writes that this puts the UK is a worse off position than the status quo:

If we’d stayed in the EU, we’d have been part of the negotiations over that trade deal. Our economic needs would have been a significant factor in what it contained. But outside, we are irrelevant to the discussion.

Ian Dunt, editor of politics.co.uk and author of Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now

Of course, even if she is able to secure an agreement with Canada similar to the one in Japan, it’s not a done deal. They will likely want to see what the UK’s circumstances are when it does leave the EU first.


Image: ©Martin Good / Shutterstock.com
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