Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Speaking at an online conference hosted by the Financial Times on Wednesday, the Prime Minister affirmed that a new trade agreement with the UK might occur before 2021, although he admitted the possibility of delay due to 'bandwidth.'
“I think we’re ready to have it done before January 1. One of the challenges is bandwidth. The U.K. hasn’t had to negotiate trade deals in the past few decades so there is an issue of not really having the bandwidth within government to move forward on this,” the Prime Minister noted.
Mr. Trudeau spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week, and remains optimistic.
“Canada is a really easy one, we’re there for it, we’d like to do it, so I’m very hopeful that it’s going to get done, but that is really up to the U.K. government,” he noted.
Although the UK finally left the EU this year after a contentious referendum back in 2016, which was followed by a dragged-out ‘divorce,’ the country is still subject to certain European rules and regulations on trade as part of a transitional waiting period—which ends December 31.
The British-Canadian trade deal will likely “mirror the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, or CETA,” the free trade deal Canada presently maintains with the European Union.
If this deal should pass, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole may seek to build on Mr. Trudeau’s work.
Mr. O’Toole is a supporter of the CANZUK union plan between the former settler colonies of the British Empire (and Britain herself).
Although no plan has yet been implemented, this union, which would comprise Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, will likely ease restrictions on internal migration, while increasing defence sharing and trade between them. As a potential counterweight to the EU, this new union of Commonwealth states, characterized by a common British heritage, would comprise more than 130 million people and would control around 10% of the world’s wealth.
On the proposed CANZUK union plan, Mr. O’Toole has said:
“There’s a real chance of another general election within the next 18 months. If I become PM I will prioritise CANZUK through PM Johnson and [our] counterparts in Australia and NZ. There’s a potential this would form a very real working group and lead to substantive efforts right out of the gate. With Brexit and PM Johnson’s majority, it would be likely well received in Britain. It’s [also] an obvious step. We’re a natural fit as allies: since our earliest days we have fought together, we have bled together and shared aspirations together. “We are all Commonwealth members, we are all security partners, we share the same sovereign, the same system of law, the same commitment to human rights and are already partners in a variety of ways, such as student and defence exchanges.”