Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Britain Supports EU Free Trade Deal with Canada despite Brexit: Freeland

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Britain Supports EU Free Trade Deal with Canada despite Brexit: Freeland

Article excerpt

Britain supports EU trade deal: Freeland

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OTTAWA - Britain has assured Canada it will push for speedy ratification of the mammoth free trade deal with the European Union, despite its intention to leave the 28-country bloc, says International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Freeland told The Canadian Press she has received assurances from her British counterpart, Lord Mark Price, and that he's conveyed those same assurances to their EU counterpart, Cecilia Malmstrom.

"We've proactively had assurances from Britain that Britain would be supporting the EU at that level, and is proud to do so," Freeland said this week.

Britain's referendum decision to leave the EU last month is one of many factors complicating the ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA.

Freeland said Britain has a lot of its plate, starting with selecting a new government later this year.

"They have to make some choices about national political leadership and they have to make some very big choices about the EU. They are very mindful of how Canada fits into that picture," she said.

A senior government official said Wednesday it would be a long, complicated process before Britain formally leaves the EU. In the meantime, Britain is bound by its treaty obligations, which include CETA.

Britain has yet to serve formal notice to the EU that it intends to leave, by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which has never been done. That would trigger a two-year negotiation period.

But the government official, who briefed journalists on the condition he not be named, said that two-year period could be extended, perhaps up to a decade because of some 40 years of common regulation.

"It's going to be extremely complicated to try to extricate the UK from all of those regulations if that's where would they would like to head."

Scott Sinclair, a senior research fellow with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said the government needs to make a critical evaluation of how the deal could be diminished by Britain's departure. …

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