British Prime Minister Boris Johnson answers questions during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Britain and the European Union reached a new tentative Brexit deal on Thursday, hoping to finally escape the acrimony, divisions and frustration of their three-year divorce battle. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Canadian business needs Brexit certainty but Johnson plan only a start: observers

The outcome of the unusual weekend vote in London is itself far from predictable

Experts warn that a post-Brexit United Kingdom will present Canadian business with tremendous uncertainty about billions of dollars worth of trade and investments, no matter how the British Parliament votes on Saturday.

The outcome of the unusual weekend vote in London is itself far from predictable, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson struggles to get support for a controversial agreement that he reached Thursday with the European Union.

But observers say even a Johnson success would only provide a starting point for further rounds of difficult negotiations between London and Brussels and eventually between Canada and the United Kingdom.

Fasken partner Clifford Sosnow says the primary benefit of Johnson’s plan is that it would provide for 14 months to 36 months of negotiations on a new trade deal for two of Canada’s biggest export and investment markets.

“The major concern for everybody is the instability and the instability from not knowing what the business relationship will be, what the investment relationship will be,” says Sosnow, who provides strategic advice about international trade and investments at one of Canada’s largest business law firms.

He adds that open talks between the United Kingdom and Canada would be allowed only after the U.K. leaves the European Union on Oct. 31, if Johnson’s schedule is passed by the British House of Commons.

ALSO READ: Brexit hard-liner Boris Johnson wins race to become UK’s next prime minister

The United Kingdom by itself, represents one of Canada’s top five destinations for investments and top 10 markets for goods and services.

It has also been a gateway for Canadian companies that do business in the European Union, which is Canada’s second- or third-biggest trading partner after the United States and China, depending on the measure.

About 40 per cent of Canadian trade in merchandise with the EU goes through United Kingdom, says Achim Hurrelmann, a political scientist and co-director of Carleton University’s Centre for European Studies in Ottawa.

Without a good free-trade deal between Brussels and London, companies may reconsider “whether they want to stay in the United Kingdom or … go to Dublin (Ireland), or to France or to Germany or the Netherlands.”

“To some extent, that has already happened but my impression is that most companies have been staying put and observing and waiting (to see) what is happening,” Hurrelmann says.

He says that Johnson’s proposed deal would provide more time to sort out the U.K.’s trade relationship with the EU but also with Canada.

“Canada wants to have a trade deal with the U.K. and the U.K. wants to have one with Canada as well,” Hurrelmann says.

“But the question, of course, is will we have time to actually work that out properly or will that have to be very rushed after a no-deal Brexit.”

Mark Camilleri, a Brussels-based Canadian at the Canada EU Trade and Investment Association, says he thinks it’s fair to say “that having any deal is better than having no deal” if only to reduce uncertainty.

He says that having no U.K.-EU. deal “it would potentially be very destabilizing for businesses, including Canadian businesses that are not just based in the U.K. but also based in the EU that are trading to the U.K.”

But Camilleri noted the British Parliament has rejected Theresa May’s proposals on three occasions so ’one has to hold one’s breath as to whether or not (Johnson’s deal) will get through.”

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberni Valley Community Foundation opens grant application process for 2020

Nearly $30K available for Port Alberni-based charities

Stray cat with ‘serious burns’ recovering at Alberni SPCA

The BC SPCA’s Alberni-Clayoquot branch is asking members of the public for help with medical costs

B.C. government puts kibosh on drag racing at Alberni Valley Regional Airport

AVDRA was hopeful for a three-year temporary contract to race at the airport

Wet, white and windy winter weather hits Port Alberni

Snow expected to turn to rain on Thursday

Public invited to join Port Alberni budget discussions

Committee of the whole meeting scheduled for Jan. 20

Canada to bolster screening of central China passengers for virus at 3 airports

Additional measures will include messaging on arrivals screens in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Wind and snow spark power outages across Vancouver Island

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Most Read