UK – The United Kingdom has suspended its trade negotiations with Canada, revealing a challenging phase in its post-Brexit trade aspirations.

The breakdown in talks, which commenced in March 2022, is primarily attributed to disputes surrounding hormone-treated beef and cheese, underscoring the complexities the UK faces in forging new trade relationships.

The core issue revolves around Canada’s insistence on the UK relaxing its ban on hormone-treated beef, a move vehemently opposed by British producers who fear the adverse impact on the domestic market.

Simultaneously, the UK has raised concerns over the hefty 245% import taxes imposed by Canada on British cheese at the beginning of 2023.

The existing trading terms between the two nations, governed by a deal inherited from the UK’s time as an EU member, are expected to worsen, affecting various industries.

Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, expressed relief over the UK government’s stance on hormone-treated beef.

However, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) voiced concerns, highlighting the adverse impact on dairy exporters and the manufacturing industry.

Downing Street remains resolute, asserting that the government will only negotiate deals that serve British interests and is open to resuming talks with Canada in the future.

This position is mirrored by Canada’s trade minister, Mary Ng, who emphasized the necessity for a mutually beneficial agreement.

“The UK is a long-standing trading partner, and I am confident that we can negotiate an agreement that is win-win for Canada and the UK. But let me be clear – we will not negotiate an agreement that is not good for Canadians – and not good for our Canadian businesses, farmers, and workers,” a spokesperson for Ng stated.

This suspension marked the first time the UK has formally halted negotiations with a trade partner since leaving the EU trading regime in 2021.

The total goods trade between the UK and Canada, valued at £19.2 billion in 2020, underscores the significance of this relationship.

Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade Jonathan Reynolds and SNP International Trade spokesperson Richard Thomson have criticized the Conservative government for this setback, citing it as a failure to uphold post-Brexit trade promises.

As the UK navigates its new path outside the EU, the outcome of these negotiations will be closely watched, reflecting the nation’s ability to establish independent trade agreements that align with its standards and economic interests.


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