Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Canada's U.K. Envoy Says Fast Post-Brexit Trade Deal Is Possible

Canada and the U.K. should be able to strike a speedy trade deal after Britain leaves the European Union, Canadian envoy Janice Charette said.

“My expectation is we’ll be able to arrive at something as quickly as the political leadership in both countries want it to happen,” Charette said on Thursday in a television interview with Channel 4 News. “Trade agreements will be easy to reach.”

Britain is preparing to trigger two years of talks to leave the 28-member EU just as the bloc finalizes a trade deal with Canada after seven years of negotiations. Prime Minister Theresa May has signaled she wants to exit the EU’s customs union so that Britain can broker new trade deals with the rest of the world, justifying her establishment in July of a new Department for International Trade.

Charette, Canada’s High Commissioner to the U.K., said that while Britain is still an EU member, it will benefit from tariff reductions enshrined in the new trade deal, which is known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. The pact is slated to end 98 percent of tariffs on goods from the outset and 99 percent after seven years. After Brexit, the CETA agreement should serve as a model for the new U.K.-Canada deal, the envoy said.

“There already is a trade deal, so the question is how do we revise just technically to make sure that the preferential access for investors and companies stays in place,” she said. “We have an opportunity through negotiations that we’ll have to obviously finalize after the Brexit conversation finishes to preserve that market access for these companies and these investors, because we’re already starting with a trade agreement; we’re not starting with nothing.”

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