Canada-Britain hold ‘informal’ trade talks

OTTAWA — Canada and Britain are holding informal free trade talks, even though Britain is barred from direct negotiations before it formalizes its Brexit divorce from the European Union.

International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says Canada says it isn’t breaking any EU rules by doing that.

Champagne’s comment comes a day after the president of the European Parliament warned Britain against any unilateral action, including trade talks, before it formalizes its departure, which could take another two years.

Champagne says he’s met his British counterpart, Liam Fox three times, while their officials are also talking because continuing a trading relationship is in the best interest of both countries.

Canada and Britain will become free trade partners in the coming months anyway when Canada ratifies the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the EU, because Britain remains a party to all EU treaties before its Brexit is finalized.

Champagne’s comments echo what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this week — that Canada will continue to look for ways to deepen economic ties with Britain after it leaves the EU.

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