British PM, Trudeau say Canada EU trade deal a 'basis' for new bilateral talks

OTTAWA _ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Theresa May say their two countries are working towards a new bilateral free trade deal to take effect after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Both leaders say the template for a deal would be the long-heralded Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, or CETA, that comes largely into effect this week between Canada and the EU.

The Canada-EU trade deal eliminates well over 90 per cent of all barriers in trade between Canada and the European Union, and as such provides “an excellent basis for ensuring a smooth transition” post-Brexit, Trudeau said.

“After that, there will obviously be opportunities for us to look at particular details that could be improved upon for the specific needs and opportunities in the bilateral relationship between the U.K. and Canada,” he told a joint news conference on Parliament Hill.

“But as a strong basis for a smooth transition, CETA is perfectly designed, and will be able to ensure _ for investors, for companies and for workers and consumers _ a smooth transition.”

May agreed that using the Canada-EU agreement as the basis for a forthcoming new bilateral deal makes sense and would ensure the best path forward for all parties.

“We want to ensure that for businesses and indivduals, that there is as smooth a changeover, when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, as possible; we want to see as little disruption to economies and to people’s lives,” she said.

“That’s why we believe it makes sense to take the trade agreement _ which the U.K. is part of, it’s part of the European Union _ with Canada, and say that that is the basis at that point at which which we leave for a bilateral relationship with the U.K. and Canada.”

The two leaders met Monday ahead of Trudeau’s trip to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly.

May said she has a number of topics on her agenda, including trade, Trudeau’s efforts on behalf of women’s empowerment and ways to curb the use of the Internet by terrorists.