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Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020

Boris is seeking a Canada-style free-trade agreement after Brexit

Boris Johnson is seeking a Canada-style trade free trade agreement with the European Union after Brexit, it has been confirmed.

The PM is said to be ready to accept an ‘off-the-shelf’ trade model that was first proposed by Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier.

The UK now heads into an 11-month transition period during which trade, security, energy, transport links, fishing rights, data flow and citizens’ rights need to be hammered out.

It is set to be an uncertain time as both sides try to get the best from the divorce deal while attempting minimal disruption to the bloc’s 450 million citizens.

Mr Johnson is set to make a speech on Monday in which he is expected to confirm his wish for a Canada-style agreement – which took seven years to be agreed by the EU.

It allows for almost tariff-free trade in goods and does entail border checks.

It will not include the UK’s large services sector.

The Treasury has estimated that the economy will be 4.9% smaller under such a deal after 15 years than if it had remained in the EU.

The Canada-style agreement was rejected by Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May.

However, he met with Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, in Downing Street at the beginning of the year to express his openness to such a deal.

Leaders of the bloc have warned that trade deals typically take years to complete and few in Brussels believe anything will be finalised before January 2021.

A deal would be easier if the UK was willing to remain aligned with EU regulations but Westminster has refused.

The EU says it will not seal a trade deal with a large, economically powerful neighbour without solid provisions to guarantee fair competition.

Its demands will focus on ‘level playing-field’ issues — environmental and labour standards, as well as state aid rules -to ensure Britain would not be able to offer products on the bloc’s single market at unfairly low prices.

EU leaders have warned they will reject a Canada-style free trade agreement unless the government signs up to certain key European rules.

One of those could be that EU judges have the power to rule on the terms of any post-Brexit agreement, according to the Times.

That is unlikely to go down well with Mr Johnson while David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, has said the UK cannot have any involvement in agencies overseen by the European Court of Justice.

Talks will begin formally in March with Michel Barnier taking the lead for the EU and Mr Frost for the UK.

At the same time, the UK will be attempting to drum-up post-Brexit trade deals with the wider world – something that was banned while we were part of the EU.

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