Canada’s High Commissioner hopes change in U.K. government brings change to stalled bi-lateral trade talks with Canada

The newly elected Labour Party in the United Kingdom has its work cut out for it when it comes to several issues, including trade.

In particular, the new U.K. government will need to address the currently stalled bi-lateral trade negotiations with Canada. It’s been on hold since January when British negotiators, working under the Conservative government at the time, decided to walk away from the bargaining table after more than ten rounds of negotiations since it began in 2022.

Stumbling blocks include the U.K.s refusal to import Canadian beef due to a difference in standards, and Canada not extending a special U.K. cheese export quota and country-of-origin rules on products being exported.

The Labour Party, who were the official opposition at the time, said walking away was counter-productive, and the only way to get a deal done is staying at the table. In an exclusive interview with SaskAgToday, which you can hear at the bottom of the article, Canada’s High Commissioner Ralph Goodale Goodale hopes the Labour Party’s view remains the same today.

“We’ll be interested to see, number one: do they come back to the bargaining table quickly and enthusiastically? We hope they do,” Goodale said. “And are they really there negotiating in good faith? Which means there has to be some wins for Canada, because we’re not going to sign a bad deal.”

“This negotiation is a two-way street. You can’t be all give and no take. There has to be some benefit and some gain from Canada’s point-of-view just as there has to be some benefit and gain from the U.K.’s point-of-view.”

Goodale says the feeling in that country right now is cautious optimism and hope, following 14 years under Conservative governments.

Goodale says newly elected U.K. Prime Minister Keir Starmer has already been on the phone with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden, and leaders around the E.U. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly met with her British counterpart on Monday. Goodale noted a meeting of G7 Trade Ministers is set for next week in Italy, adding Canada’s Minister of International Trade Mary Ng will be there and possibly the new U.K. Secretary of State for Business and Trade Jonathan Reynolds, though its unconfirmed at this time if he is attending.

“Undoubtedly, if they get a chance to have a conversation with each other, they’ll be talking about what it will take to get a free trade negotiation going with Canada,” he added.

The postponement of negotiations doesn’t mean a trade deal doesn’t exist. A Trade Continuity Agreement (TCA) allows the trade of goods between Canada and Britain to continue to flow until a new agreement is finalized.

Full interview with Ralph Goodale:

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