Nova Scotia

Canada-U.K. trade deal maintains tariff-free access for Canadian seafood

The industry says it was facing $11 million in post-Brexit tariffs without a deal, which must still be approved by both governments.

U.K. market worth $131M to Canadian seafood companies

The top seafood exports to the U.K. are lobsters, salmon, shrimps, prawns and scallops, says the Fisheries Council of Canada. (CBC)

Canada's seafood industry is breathing a sigh of relief after the signing of a temporary free-trade deal between Canada and the United Kingdom.

The agreement announced on the weekend keeps tariffs off Canadian seafood exports — valued at $131 million last year — to the U.K. post-Brexit.

Tariffs on Canadian seafood were eliminated under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). 

"It cements the access that we've currently enjoyed under CETA. The U.K. is our fifth largest single country export destination, so it is important for our sector and we're pleased that this transitional deal was reached," said Paul Lansbergen, president of the Fisheries Council of Canada.

"Our analysis was that it would have resulted in about an average of a 10 per cent tariff on our products, and that would certainly be enough to disadvantage us in the marketplace if other countries reached a transitional deal."

Industry says it was facing $11M in tariffs

The Fisheries Council of Canada, a non-profit trade association representing seafood harvesters, processors, importers and marketers, said the top seafood exports to the U.K. are salmon (35 per cent), shrimps and prawns (26 per cent), lobsters (25 per cent), and scallops (five per cent).

The council said applicable tariffs would have added roughly $11 million on the top four exports in absence of an agreement.

The office of International Trade Minister Mary Ng said the deal maintains "a competitive edge and preferential access to the U.K. market" for Atlantic Canadian seafood companies.

"It's vital for the hard-working people and businesses in the fish and seafood industry who would have faced increased tariffs on their exports to the U.K. once the Brexit period ends," said press secretary Youmy Han in a statement to CBC News.

The interim deal is good news for some of Atlantic Canada's biggest seafood companies like Ocean Choice International in Newfoundland and Labrador and Clearwater Seafoods in Nova Scotia.

Clearwater 'very pleased' with deal

"We are very pleased with the Canada-U.K. trade deal," said Christine Penney, vice-president of sustainability for Clearwater Seafoods, in an email. "The deal will provide a seamless transition for trade between Canada and the U.K. as the U.K. exits the European Union." 

The deal must be approved by both governments.

In Canada's case, legislation to change regulations and laws, including its custom tariff, to comply with the new agreement must be approved by Parliament before the deal can take effect.

The Fisheries Council of Canada is urging Parliament to ratify the deal as soon as possible.

"Canadians working in the fisheries sector supply chain will thank you," the council said in a news release.

Negotiations for a permanent free-trade deal with the U.K. are planned for next year.

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