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)

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

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

(Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Thursday.
COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site

14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Most Read