OTTAWA/LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and Canada are very close to agreeing the terms of a free trade deal and the agreement could be announced in the coming days, a Canadian government source said on Thursday.
Britain is negotiating several bilateral trade deals to come into force once it exits a transition arrangement with the European Union at the end of this year, and many of them would simply replace the terms the bloc had already agreed.
British Trade Minister Liz Truss earlier said the government of Boris Johnson was determined to reach a trade deal with Canada before the end of the year.
“We are very very close … it’s fair to say it will be a matter of days,” said the Canadian source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.
A second Ottawa-based source familiar with the talks also said an announcement would come very soon.
News that the deal could be imminent was first reported by the Bloomberg news agency.
After leaving the EU in January, Johnson is trying to shape a “global Britain” that can strike out alone and negotiate better agreements than the bloc. But so far, his critics point out, the deals have largely been the same.
The European Union already has a free trade pact with Canada. Truss said Canada and Britain were negotiating a continuity agreement, which would ensure there were no disruptions to free trade.
“I do hope that in the future, as Canada is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership … that we will be able to go much further and build a much deeper relationship with Canada,” she told legislators.
A Johnson spokesman said that in less than two years, the government had signed or agreed in principle trade agreements with 52 countries, accounting for 142 billion pounds ($187 billion) of British bilateral trade.
(Additional reporting by William James in London; Editing by Kate Holton, Stephen Addison and Bernadette Baum)