Yukon premier pitching Team Canada trade mission to UK for post-Brexit talks
'We need to make sure that we've got access to that market,' Darrell Pasloski says of Great Britain
Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski wants to organize a trade mission of all Canadian premiers to the United Kingdom early next year to hammer out a free trade deal with the country still reeling from the Brexit vote.
Pasloski, who will host all of the premiers in his territory next week for the Council of the Federation meeting, said that Canada needs to press ahead with trade talks to shore up its economic relationship with the country.
Last month's UK referendum vote to leave the European Union has raised questions about the fate of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the Canada-EU free trade deal, which has not yet been ratified.
"We need to go to the UK (...) a large portion of that CETA agreement, or the trade that was going to result, was trade with UK. We need to make sure that we've got access to that market," Pasloski said in an interview with Chris Hall on CBC Radio's The House.
"The timing would be right for us to go."
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The premier, the head of the right-of-centre Yukon Party, said he would canvass support from his colleagues during the meeting, saying the trade mission could be similar to one the premiers undertook to China in October 2012.
Britain 'very committed' to CETA: trade minister
CETA was negotiated by the former Harper government and finalized under the current Liberal government.
The European Council, made up of government leaders from the EU's 28 member countries, will meet in October and is expected to ratify the agreement.
Each EU member country will also have to sign off on the agreement but 90 to 95 per cent of the deal will be put in place regardless of individual votes in those legislatures.
International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland remains upbeat about the deal's future despite uncertainty in Brussels. She travelled to London this week to meet with her newly-appointed British counterpart, Liam Fox, and attend the Farnborough International Airshow.
"It was a very good conversation, and Dr. Fox — when I asked him if I could count on his and Britain's continued support for CETA — he told me Britain would not just be supporting CETA, Britain would be pushing for CETA at the EU table," Freeland said on a conference call with reporters Friday.
"The British government is very committed, and this is very good news to hear. We're very pleased."
Britain's High Commissioner to Canada, Howard Drake, told CBC News shortly after the Brexit vote that his country is eager to pen trade deals to avoid economic isolation after its EU departure.
"We'll be looking to make trade deals with other countries around the world, including Canada. Other countries that are currently outside the EU do have very good trading relationships with other countries, so we can be the same. We have a lot to bring to the party," he said.