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U.K. suspends trade negotiations with Canada, as each accuse the other of not budging

OTTAWA — The United Kingdom is hitting the brakes on trade talks with Canada after Ottawa decided to not extend two temporary measures put in place after Brexit.

London announced the pause in negotiations today, less than a month before the next round of talks towards a permanent trade deal was expected to take place.

A special quota for U.K. cheese imports, which offered the same low-tariff access to the Canadian market as the European Union has, expired at the end of last month. 

Canada has also decided not to extend country-of-origin rules set to expire at the end of March, which will likely drive up the price of U.K. goods such as luxury cars.

Trade Minister Mary Ng’s office says the move stems from British “unwillingness” to offer something in return, such as budging on a dispute over Canadian meat.

Both countries insist they want a fair deal for each other’s businesses, farmers and workers.

“We reserve the right to pause negotiations with any country if progress is not being made,” reads a statement from the British government.

“We remain open to restarting talks with Canada in the future to build a stronger trading relationship that benefits businesses and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Shanti Cosentino, a spokeswoman for Ng, said Canada is “disappointed” in the move.

“Their decision to continue to maintain market access barriers for our agriculture industry and unwillingness to reach a mutual agreement has only stalled negotiations,” she said.

“The U.K. is a long-standing trading partner, and I am confident that we can negotiate an agreement that is (a) win-win for Canada and for the U.K.” 

Canada’s cattle sector has been lobbying against a deal with the U.K. over a long-standing dispute on hormone-treated beef and pork.

The U.K. has held back on importing meats treated with certain hormones that are widely used by Canadian ranchers, who argue the Brits’ concern isn’t grounded in science.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2024.

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press


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