- After approximately 23 months of negotiations, the UK has chosen to suspend discussions with Canada concerning a new trade deal. Disagreements surrounding beef and cheese are reportedly believed to be central to the collapse in dialogue between the two countries.1
- In 2020, the UK and Canada agreed to an initial Trade Continuity Agreement, continuing agreements made between the two countries under the 2016 Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Without a new agreement, tariff rates on certain products — such as cheese, wheat, and shrimp, have currently expired.2
- A statement by a UK Government spokesperson claims that a trade deal with Canada will only be one that 'deliver[s]' for the British people,' continuing that 'progress [was] not being made.' The statement further comments that the UK 'remain[s] open to restarting talks' in order to 'build a stronger trading relationship.'3
- The BBC claims that the UK remains opposed to lifting a ban on hormone-treated beef while holding 'concerns' over potential 245% import taxes on British cheese products. Former Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Secretary (2020-22) George Eustace has stated that 'any access granted for hormone beef' must be 'matched with access for UK dairy' in a trade deal with Canada.1
- The UK's 'Strategic Approach' to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) reveals in 2021 total goods and services trade worth sat at £19.2B (approximately $24.5B), with the UK being Canada's third largest trading partner, and Canada the UK's 16th largest partner. The document also claims the UK to be 'firmly committed' to upholding 'high standards on food safety.'4
- In response, Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng stated that she was 'disappointed' by the pause and that Canada 'continue[d] to be at the table.' Ng continued that on behalf of 'exporters, farmers, workers, [and] businesses' its government would continue to 'look for the best deal for Canadians.'5
- Narrative A, as provided by Farmers Guardian. The UK's suspension of trade negotiations with Canada is a relief for the union's farming and produce sectors. The UK has rightfully stuck to its guns by rejecting an acceptance of dangerous growth hormones within available food products. While compromise is necessary for any agreement, the UK's world-leading food safety standards will not be undermined at any cost.
- Narrative B, as provided by Nationalpost. Criticism surrounding Canada's widely-used hormone-treated beef lacks scientific basis, and the UK continues to face the consequences of its mismanagement of negotiations. Agreed timelines by both countries have been disrespected by the UK, and it's up to London to agree to concessions to avoid a tariff hike in product prices.
- Narrative C, as provided by The New European. Nearly reaching the fourth anniversary of Brexit, the myth of liberation from EU regulations and consequent economic prosperity has been undoubtedly exposed. Outside of two terrible deals with Australia and New Zealand, the UK has nothing to show within its damaging and potentially permanent post-Brexit reality.
- Narrative D, as provided by Global News. The UK's decision to pause negotiations is yet another setback for Trudeau and Canada. The UK's blanket rejection of hormone-treated beef only compiles misery on a country that has also seen discussions with India breakdown in recent months following diplomatic tension. Alongside further pushback from the US, Canada currently sees itself between a rock and a hard place in its attempts to secure beneficial trade deals.