On Friday January 27th, Canada’s Minister of International Trade François-P Champagne and the Montréal Council on Foreign Relations (CORIM) welcomed the Honourable Liam Fox to discuss the UK’s global trade outlook beyond their time in the EU.
“For the first time in more than four decades, Britain will have an independent trade policy.”The newly appointed Secretary of State for International Trade began his keynote with some encouraging words for UK – Canada trade relations “Britain’s ambition is to become a global champion of free trade, working to remove barriers and liberalize commerce across the world.” 10 encouraging signs that Greater Montréal will remain a good economic partner for the UK post-Brexit
- Fox told his audience of politicians and business leaders this was an “exciting new era” for Britain and the world, as the UK will ‘throw off the shackles’ of Brussels in the next two years stating that Britain, US and Canada can lead the world in liberty and free trade.
- The Trade Secretary noted that the United Kingdom is Canada’s third-largest export market and second-largest destination for foreign direct investment after the US. However, he acknowledged that Trade between the two countries has room to grow.
- The UK’s top trade negotiator joked that his newly founded department of over 1000 worldwide members was the largest trade startup in the world and that six months ago the department only existed on paper. He went on to say, “Ensuring that there is no disruption in our free trade either with Canada or any other partner is a top priority.”
- “The three-way trading and investment alliance between Canada, the UK and the United States is an example for the world and is vitally important not only to our own prosperity but to the stability of the free trading world,” Fox said.
- He claimed that a free trade deal with Canada is a top priority for his department as around 600 UK firms operate in Canada from industries such as oil extraction, aerospace to pharmaceuticals.
- He reminded those in attendance of the long-standing mutually beneficial political and economic relationship Canada has with the UK. “Britain is Canada’s second-largest inbound and outbound investment partner and our third-largest trading partner”, Fox said.
- Another encouraging note was when the Trade Secretary promised that the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) signed between the EU and Canada will be improved on in a separate but similar agreement with the UK.
- He pointed out that CETA is worth around an annual £1.3 billion to the UK, and some £7.3 billion from the EU to Canada. “We have every intention of continuing to honour its clauses,” Fox said.
- He also made it clear that while Britain wants to have a good relationship with what remains of the EU, it is time to “reforge” its relations with old allies including Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well as other parts of the Commonwealth.
- Signaling prospects for the future, Dr. Fox said the UK Government is “greatly encouraged” by the Trump administration’s desire to have a free trade deal with Britain and that the UK is as committed to free and open trade with the US as they are with Canada. He went on to finish the speech on an encouraging note telling the audience “as much as Canada is a part of Britain’s past, and vice-versa, we are also part of one another’s future.”