Manufacturing and small business organisations have expressed their support for a new free trade agreement between the UK and Canada, with negotiations now officially underway.
Between 2017 and 2019, trade in goods with Canada increased from £11.4 billion to £14 billion, with machinery and transport equipment, manufactured materials and chemical products making up the lion’s share of exports.
According to the government, one of the biggest benefits of a free trade agreement between the two countries would be a reduction in trade barriers for SME exporters, who currently face disproportionately challenging administration processes. The adoption of digital trading systems and simplified paperwork could benefit an estimated 10,000 SMEs and encourage many more to start trading with Canada, the government said.
The UK’s negotiating objectives also include mechanisms to make it easier for UK manufacturers to have their products tested against Canadian rules.
Commenting on the plans, Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:
“The launch of these trade talks marks a really important step forward. A third of our members who export see Canada as an important market, and they’ll be hoping that these discussions result in an ambitious free trade agreement that enables more small businesses from both sides of the Atlantic to realise the benefits of trading internationally.”
Speaking on behalf of UK manufacturing, Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, said:
“Achieving future preferential trade arrangements with Canada receives strong support from UK manufacturers. These preferential trade arrangements will ensure manufacturing benefits from future positive flows of goods and services into the Canadian market.”
According to research conducted in 2021, around a third of UK exporters view North America as the most likely destination to generate growth for their business over the next three years.