Minister of International Trade Mary Ng participates in a news conference on the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement in Ottawa, on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. Ng says she is unable to provide a guarantee to MPs that they will see a bill to ratify the new provisional Canada-Britain trade agreement before Parliament adjourns on Dec. 11.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Minister of International Trade Mary Ng participates in a news conference on the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement in Ottawa, on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. Ng says she is unable to provide a guarantee to MPs that they will see a bill to ratify the new provisional Canada-Britain trade agreement before Parliament adjourns on Dec. 11.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

No text of Canada-U.K. trade deal, minister says as Dec. 31 tariff deadline looms

OTTAWA — Canada’s International Trade Minister Mary Ng says she can’t guarantee that MPs will see a bill to ratify the new provisional Canada-Britain trade agreement before Parliament breaks for Christmas on Dec. 11.

Ng is also telling the House of Commons trade committee today that officials in both countries are still working on the final text of the agreement.

Ng’s testimony comes nine days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his British counterpart Boris Johnson announced with great fanfare a new interim trade deal between their two countries had been struck.

The new provisional deal is needed because Canada’s current agreement with Britain under its European Union trade pact expires on Dec. 31 when Britain’s divorce from the EU takes effect.

Without a new deal in place by the year end, a series of new British tariffs on Canadian exports such as seafood, beef and automobiles would be triggered.

Ng says both countries are working on “mitigating measures” to prevent that but she offered no specifics after being repeatedly pressed by opposition MPs, saying at one point she didn’t want to make policy “on the fly.”

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