Backgrounder: Free Trade with the United Kingdom
February 9, 2018
**Introduction** On February 9, 2018, Andrew Scheer announced that a Conservative government will pursue a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom. **Canada-UK Trade Relationship** Canada and the United Kingdom have a deep and close trade relationship. The United Kingdom expects to leave the European Union in March 2019, and without a bilateral agreement, the trade relationship created by the Canada-European Union Free Trade Agreement will be lost. The United Kingdom is Canada’s third-largest export market and its second-largest destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) after the United States. Canadians buy about $9 billion worth of British goods and services annually. Nearly 600 U.K. firms operate in Canada, in industries from oil extraction to aerospace to pharmaceuticals. Many of them are based in major cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal in a variety of business sectors ranging from financial services to food and beverages. The United Kingdom remains a global hub of exceptional businesses and investment opportunities, and since the referendum in 2016, the U.K. has attracted in excess of $25 billion of foreign direct investment, which is a clear sign that other nations believe the country remains a stable trading partner. **How Would It Work?** The United Kingdom will not be able to complete any bilateral trade agreements until it exits the European Union in March 2019. However, preliminary discussions should begin immediately to ensure this critical trade relationship remains intact. Several countries, including Australia, have indicated an interest in quickly pursuing bilateral free trade agreements with the United Kingdom. Canada must be among them. Andrew Scheer will promote the launch of Canada-United Kingdom free trade discussions when he visits the U.K. in March 2018.