Liz Truss holds vital call with Canada as Brexit Britain eyes new mega-deal

Liz Truss submits UK's application to join the CPTPP

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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss confirmed the call as the UK eyes new opportunities outside of the European Union and “a new UK-Canada trade deal”. It comes as Britain has already applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Canada is part of. Writing on Twitter, Liz Truss wrote: “Great to speak with Mary Ng today.

“We discussed: Advancing free & fair trade at the next G7 trade meeting. Looking ahead to a new UK-Canada trade deal. Our shared ambitions on green trade.”

Mary Ng also referenced the critical conversation with Ms Truss on social media.

She said: “Great to catch up with UK Secretary Liz Truss ahead of our upcoming G7 trade meeting.

“I look forward to continuing our work on WTO reform and ensuring inclusive trade benefits workers, businesses, and people on both sides of the Atlantic!”

The UK signed a Trade Continuity Agreement with Canada which came into force on 1 April 2021.

The deal was secured to support total trade between Canada and the UK – worth £22.4bn in 2019 – helping both nations recover from the Covid pandemic.

Liz Truss said at the time: “We have an exciting year ahead working with Canada to advance our shared priorities for free and fair trade and I look forward to building further momentum through our G7 Presidency this year.

“Later this year, we will take our trading relationship to new heights by starting negotiations on a new trade deal that will help us set the bar for 21st Century trade, bringing jobs opportunity, and prosperity for our people.”

And, Ms Truss confirmed the UK had applied to join the CPTPP, comprising, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, in January.

She said: “CPTPP offers 95 percent tariff-free trade on goods between members and advanced provisions for services and digital trade.

“But unlike when we were in the European Union, we will remain a fully sovereign nation as this partnership is purely about free trade.”

Earlier this week, Ms Truss was criticised over some of the deals the UK has already secured since cutting ties with the European Union.

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Labour’s Shadow Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry raised issue with clauses included in rollover trade deals with 23 countries.

Ms Thornberry said: “When I asked Liz Truss recently what she was doing to promote the nation’s new freeports, I was told in response that it was a ‘domestic policy’ and not something her department was focused on, and now I fear that we are seeing the cost of that inattention.

“Last November, when the Treasury invited applications for its new freeports scheme, the small print warned potential bidders of the prohibition clauses contained in several continuity trade agreements the Department of Trade had signed in the previous two years.

“But despite that warning, Liz Truss went on to sign trade agreements with 10 more countries containing the same clauses, including key markets like Canada, Singapore and Mexico.

“It would have taken an hour of discussion and the stroke of a pen to explain the UK’s freeports policy to negotiators from these countries and remove the prohibition clauses from those agreements, and I cannot understand why Liz Truss failed to do that.

“On the surface of it, this looks like a catastrophic blunder by a minister stuck in her silo, and as a result, I fear that manufacturers in towns, cities and regions across our country who have succeeded in bidding for freeport status risk missing out on access to key markets.

“I’ve written to Liz Truss asking her to clarify the situation, and if it needs fixing, I’ve urged her to go back to the negotiating table immediately with these 23 countries and get these clauses removed before Britain’s freeports come into operation later this year.”

But a UK Government spokesperson hit back at these claims, and said: “There is no error and it is not uncommon for free trade agreements to have these provisions.

“Businesses will not be shut out of markets we have negotiated free trade deals with. They will benefit from both our free trade programme, and also from freeports, which provide tax breaks, simpler planning restrictions and cheaper imports.

“Where these provisions apply, businesses can choose to either benefit from the duty drawback, or the preferential rates under the free trade agreement – provided they meet the rules of origin test under that agreement – depending on what suits them best.”

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