UK suspends trade negotiations with Canada over hormone-treated beef

UK suspends trade negotiations with Canada over hormone-treated beef

Trade talks between Canada and the UK have been suspended after Canada pushed the UK with a request to relax its ban on hormone-treated beef.

The UK Government rejected the idea of importing Canadian hormone-treated beef.

The relaxation of the ban would allow Canada to export more to the UK, as its regulations on beef are less strict than the UK’s.

Since March 2022, the UK and Canada have been working to agree on a new trade deal for the countries. Previously, the deal allowed the UK to sell cars and cheese to Canada without being charged with import tax, but since the start of 2024 Canada had imposed higher tariffs on British cheese. British car companies face a similar tariff commencing from April 2024.

Talks stopped after the UK insisted on maintaining restrictions on its agricultural products, with The Guardian reporting that “beef treated with hormones has been a persistent problem”.

Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade of Canada Mary Ng said in a statement on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) that the Canadian Government “will never agree to a deal that isn’t good for our workers, farmers and businesses”.

A spokeswoman for Ng told BBC journalists said she was “disappointed” in the suspension. She said: “Their decision to continue to maintain market access barriers for our agriculture industry and unwillingness to reach a mutual agreement has only stalled negotiations.

“The UK is along-standing trading partner and I am confident that we can negotiate an agreement that is win-win for Canada and for the UK.

“But let me be clear – we will not negotiate an agreement that is not good for Canadians – and not good for our Canadian businesses, farmers and workers.”

According to the UK Government, total trade between the two countries was worth £19.2 billion in 2020, with UK imports from Canada worth £7.3 billion while UK exports to Canada were worth £11.8 billion.

“We have always said we will only negotiate trade deals that deliver for the British people,” said a spokeswoman for the UK Government, emphasising that it had a “right to pause negotiations with any country if progress is not being made”.

“We have always said we will only negotiate trade deals that deliver for the British people… we remain open to restarting talks with Canada in the future to build a stronger trading relationship.”

Canadian Conservative MP Kyle Beesack posted a statement on ‘X’, reading: “By allowing the United Kingdom to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) before completing a bilateral deal Canada lost key leverage in the bilateral trade talks.

“Justin Trudeau and Mary Ng’s incompetence have put the bilateral trade negotiations with the United Kingdom in jeopardy. This hurts Canadian consumers, farmers and other businesses. While all our other allies have completed trade deals with the UK, Canada seems further away than ever.”

NFU backs decision to pause negotiation

Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), told BBC Radio 4 that she was “pleased the Government has stuck to its line and not given way.

“We have already damaged our economy and agricultural sector by fully liberalising on trade deals with Australia and New Zealand. We had to take a strong line on this.”

Director of the UK Trade Policy Project at the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) stated on ‘X’: “Canada have proved persistently touch negotiating partners for the UK, and this comes as little surprise.

“The existing replica of the EU agreement is presumed to hold for now, but must also raise a question on CPTPP ratification.”

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