August 4, 2016


UK On Course To Reach Trade Deal With Canada Before The EU Can (Harry Phibbs, August 4, 2016, Heat Street)

Six weeks on from the referendum, we already have a pretty good clue that Brexit will mean wider trading opportunities around the world.

"What would Remain look like?" was a question that BBC viewers heard far less often during the campaign. The implication was that all was settled and calm with the European Union and thus the question was superfluous. But the reality for the EU is ever more chaotic and dysfunctional. 

The attempt to agree a trade deal with Canada has been a nightmare of complexity. The haggling has been going on for an extraordinary seven years.

Jean-Luc Demarty, the European Union's director general for trade, sounds like a broken man. He warns the EU will be "close to death" should the deal collapse after all this effort. Yet it may well.

The struggle and delay is scarcely surprising. For a deal to be reached, all 28 member states of the EU have to agree terms. It is reported that Romania and Bulgaria are unwilling to do so. They are cutting up rough over an (unrelated) matter of visa entry to Canada. Doubtless if Demarty manages to placate them, some other country will come up with special demands.

The deal was due to be finalised at a summit in October, but now there are fears that the whole thing could drift on a few more years - or possibly collapse altogether. [...]

Before the referendum result the Canadians officially cautioned  against Brexit - perhaps as a result of some private arm twisting  instigated by Downing Street. But now Freeland is adopting a very different tone. She suspects that a proper free trade agreement with the UK is highly desirable and eminently achievable. She says of the UK: "We have a very robust relationship - we are not just friends, we are family."

Of course a UK-Canada trade deal will still be a major task. Also we in the UK are a bit out of practice in having the freedom to negotiate for ourselves.

Yet it will be an initiative of those who believe in what they are doing and determined to accomplish the task in a straightforward manner - not always on the look-out for mind numbing devices to frustrate the process.

It will be two nations with a shared history and common language seeking agreement. That is a rather different proposition for Canada than dealing with 28 nations.

Posted by at August 4, 2016 11:48 AM