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Opinion: Free from the EU, Britain is eager to expand trade relationship with Canada and Alberta – Calgary Herald

Canada and the United Kingdom have a profound and positive relationship. Alberta plays an important part in this which we want to grow even further.

As a newly independent trading nation, Britain is now in the position to deepen ties with one of her closest allies and negotiate a free trade agreement in the interests of businesses in both nations. Our strong relationship helps to drive innovation and support economic growth in our two countries, creating jobs and boosting wages — whilst offering consumers better choice and lower prices too.

Canada and the United Kingdom are close allies, partners and friends. It is a partnership based on shared history and values — a determination to be an active force for good in the world, from responding to the war in Ukraine to tackling climate change.

We are the only two countries in the world that are members of NATO, the G7, the G20 and the Commonwealth.

And, just as importantly, our two countries aim to improve global economic conditions so that free and fair international trade and investment can thrive.

I depart Canada today having spent the final three days of my visit in Alberta, where I have seen first-hand the deep economic ties with Britain. I have been promoting our highly ambitious trade negotiations, fostering further support for British accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and building momentum to address trade barriers between our two countries.

A trade deal between us will build on our trading relationship that was already worth over $31 billion in 2020. We want to increase that, broaden it to businesses of all sizes and pursue a truly modern deal.

Over the last five years, the United Kingdom is amongst the top export markets for products Alberta is famous for, including wheat and beef. Meanwhile, key imports from Britain include goods such as Scotch whisky, and products that help underpin Alberta’s industrious spirit: gas turbines, industrial machinery and aircraft parts.

Canada and the United Kingdom are modern economies with advanced digital sectors. There is ample room to deepen collaboration between Alberta and Britain in the province’s fast-growing digital transformation sector. Indeed, Alberta is a developing tech hub that is home to 170,000 tech workers, and a thriving ecosystem that includes fintech and artificial intelligence, areas in which Britain has expertise, a collaborative international approach and global leadership.

Nearly $8 billion of British services exports were provided through digital means to Canada in 2020 and a new deal could secure comprehensive digital trade provisions that support free, open and trusted cross-border data flows, while maintaining our high standards for personal data protection.

Both our nations aim to be world leaders in protecting the environment, developing the net-zero economy and combatting climate change. Our new trade deal can provide the foundations for businesses in Canada and Britain to innovate and more easily exchange ideas, technology and expertise.

Just this week, I have met cutting-edge companies working on low-carbon hydrogen, an industry worth an estimated $100 billion for the province, at the first Canadian Hydrogen Convention in Edmonton.

Like Canada, Britain is committed to strengthening her engagement across the Indo-Pacific, helping define the high-quality trading rules that will shape the future of this high-growth region.

Western Canada is Canada’s gateway to the Pacific and I am convinced that Britain’s accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership will help cement our close ties with that part of the globe and provide access to new, more resilient, supply chains. Together with an enhanced bilateral trade deal, we are determined to back British and Canadian businesses, bring our two nations ever closer and showcase our commitment to building a truly Global Britain.

Ranil Jayawardena is the United Kingdom’s minister for international trade. 

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