Leslie – Hard Brexit could put £2 billion of UK exports to Canada at risk

The Government’s plans for a hard and destructive Brexit could put more than £2 billion of UK exports to Canada at risk, new figures from the Open Britain campaign reveal today, as the Prime Minister flies to Ottawa to meet her Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau. 

The EU-Canada free trade agreement – known as ‘CETA’ (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) – starts to come into force this week. The Government’s own figures suggest that the deal – one of the most ambitious the EU has ever negotiated – could boost UK exports to Canada by more than £2 billion a year. 

However, CETA will automatically cease to apply to the UK the minute Britain leaves the EU, putting that extra trade at risk. The UK Government would need to negotiate with Canada to keep the deal in place to avoid that from happening.  

CETA is just one of dozens of EU agreements that deliver free trade with more than 60 countries, including major economies like South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Mexico and South Africa. All of these deals would have to be renegotiated by the UK Government to avoid a cliff edge once we leave the EU. 

On her recent visit to Japan, Theresa May said that the Government would seek to copy and paste the EU’s trade deals before Brexit.

Commenting, Chris Leslie MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:

“Theresa May is on thin ice as she begins her rocky visit to Canada. Her Ministers promised we would sign great new trade deals after Brexit. But now we know that dozens of trade deals will actually be lost once we leave the EU, unless the Government can renegotiate them in the limited time remaining. 

“The best the Prime Minister can even hope for is that we ‘copy and paste’ the deals the EU has negotiated on our behalf. That is what Theresa May will be begging Justin Trudeau for when she arrives on her visit today. 

“But doing so will be harder because of her plans for a hard, extreme Brexit. The worse our access to the EU market becomes, the less likely it is that we will get a good deal from the Canadians.

“To preserve our trade, both with Europe and with economies around the world like Canada, Theresa May needs to rethink her ideological choice to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union.”


Notes to editors:

Theresa May will travel to Ottawa today to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2017/09/13/uk-prime-minister-theresa-may-visit-canada

In 2013, in a press release welcoming the end of negotiations on CETA, the UK Government estimated that the deal would increase UK exports to Canada by 29%:


In 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available, the UK exported £7.3bn of goods and services to Canada:http://visual.ons.gov.uk/uk-trade-partners/

Therefore, a 29% increase in UK exports to Canada would boost UK exports by £2.117bn.

CETA provisionally comes into force on Thursday (21st September 2017): http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-1959_en.htm

CETA will eliminate tariffs on trade on 99 per cent of all products traded by between Canada and the US. These include important sectors for British businesses, such as machinery and electrical equipment; motor vehicles and parts; pharmaceuticals; optical instruments and medical instruments; chemicals; and clothing and textiles. 90.9% of Canada’s agricultural tariffs will be eliminated, creating major opportunities for British farmers and food and drink producers. The deal will also make it easier for British professionals to work in Canada, and will open up Canada’s large public procurement market to UK firms: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2017/february/tradoc_155362.pdf

Theresa May’s comments on copying and pasting EU trade deals were reported here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-wants-copy-paste-deals-11079222