Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May expects 'seamless' transition to trading with Canada post-Brexit

Theresa May expects a "seamless transition" to a new trading relationship between the UK and Canada after Brexit.

The Prime Minister echoed the hopes of Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau after talks between the pair in Ottawa.

Mrs May's one-day visit to Canada is focused on trade and the dispute over aircraft manufacturer Bombardier.

It takes place before a new trade deal between the EU and Canada comes into effect on Thursday, eliminating 98% of Canadian import duties in what Downing Street describes as a "significant boon" for UK exporters.

But when Britain leaves the EU, it will fall out of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta), which was championed by the UK and took seven years to negotiate.

Mrs May, speaking at a press conference, said: " We want to ensure that when we leave the European Union, for businesses and people, that change is as smooth and orderly as possible.

"And working on Ceta as becoming the first of the bilateral trade relationships between the UK and Canada that means that seamless transition can take place.

"People will know the basis on which that trading relationship will be set up.

"We will be having a working group, which obviously will be looking at the details of how that transition will operate in detail."

The PM and Mr Trudeau's agreement over the establishment of a joint working group will prepare the ground for a bilateral deal based on Ceta to be signed soon after Brexit.

Mr Trudeau said Canada "respects the need" for the UK to determine its post-Brexit future.

He added: "But at the same time we know there is in place Ceta - as the UK has demonstrated time and time again its support for this trade measure - we will be able to move forward in a way that benefits in a smooth transition that keeps the essence of Ceta applicable to the UK in ways that will respects the EU's requirements and rules."

He earlier said he also wants a seamless transition to a new trading relationship, with the comments bolstering Mrs May's hopes to use Ceta as a model for a new bilateral arrangement between Britain and Canada to be introduced swiftly after Brexit.

Mrs May's first visit to Canada comes a week before an expected ruling from US trade authorities on allegations by Boeing that Bombardier has been dumping its C-Series jets on the US market.

The PM has already spoken about the case in a phone call with US President Donald Trump last week, in which she raised concerns about the impact that a possible financial penalty for the company could have on jobs in Northern Ireland.

Bombardier is Northern Ireland's largest manufacturing employer, and Mrs May is understood to have been pressed to take action by DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose 10 MPs are propping up the minority Conservative administration in the House of Commons.

Mrs May said she will raise the issue of Bombardier again with Mr Trump when the pair meet later this week, telling reporters: "I will be impressing on him the significance of Bombardier to the United Kingdom and particularly to jobs in Northern Ireland.

"We have discussed today how we can work together and to see a resolution of this resolution which, from my point of view, I want to see a resolution that protects those jobs in Northern Ireland."

Mr Trudeau said Canada is looking to replace its fighter jet fleet, with Boeing's Super Hornet aircraft considered as a potential replacement.

But he added: "We won't do business with a company that's busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business."

Mrs May later addressed a round-table meeting of Canadian business executives, including Bombardier president and chief executive Alain Bellemare, at the British High Commissioner's residence in Ottawa.

Mrs May rejoined Mr Trudeau to meet ex-service athletes training for the Invictus Games, which open at the end of the week in Toronto.

The two premiers spoke with wheelchair basketball players on the court at Lisgar Collegiate School in central Ottawa before watching them play a practice game with students.

Shirt-sleeved Mr Trudeau was cheered by an enthusiastic crowd as he fielded a couple of passes.

The two prime ministers then exchanged team jackets from the UK and Canadian Invictus squads.

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