OTTAWA — Britain’s envoy to Ottawa says the prolonged Brexit divorce from the European Union will give her country more time to forge a proper free-trade deal with Canada.
Britain is not legally allowed to engage in free trade negotiations until it has departed the EU, but High Commissioner Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque says her country’s top trade negotiator has been meeting regularly with Canada’s to sketch out the broad strokes of a two-country deal.
Britain remains part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada as long as it is a member of the 28-country bloc.
Le Jeune d’Allegeershecque says Canadian and British negotiators are aiming to replicate CETA as much as possible in a two-way pact.
That includes technical discussions about particular chapters and topics, she tells The Canadian Press from London today, after a frustrated European Union, in an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May, granted Britain a Brexit reprieve until the end of October.
The Halloween extension avoids a messy no-deal departure from the EU that was to occur Friday, which would have triggered immediate tariffs on trade with other members.