While the focus was on Westminster this week and the vote on the Windsor Framework to solve post-Brexit trade issues with Northern Ireland, the UK and Canada are also locked in trade negotiations.

The countries are engaged in talks on a bespoke UK-Canada trade deal to replace the one rolled over on Brexit, which is a continuation of the EU-Canada deal.

In this negotiation, Canada will be looking not just to replicate the access secured by New Zealand and Australia, but to have beef included that has been produced from hormone-treated cattle.

This is currently banned by the EU and the UK has so far maintained the same policy since it left the EU.

The Canadian negotiators are under pressure from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the meat industry to hold firm on this as it has been a major bone of contention with them in relation to the CETA agreement with the EU.

Canada and CPTPP

Negotiations between Canada and the UK have appeared stressed recently.

Politico, the international political publication, has reported a spat between the UK and Canada at the recent negotiations for the UK accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

This is a trade coalition of countries based around the pacific rim and includes Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Chile, Singapore, Vietnam, Peru, Malaysia and Brunei as well as Canada. Membership of this grouping will have negligible economic benefit for the UK but it has symbolic political importance.

It does seem that the UK is taking a firmer line in the Canadian negotiation than it did with Australia and New Zealand.

That said, it would be a surprise if a deal isn’t concluded and farmers will be watching anxiously on the level of access granted for beef plus whether or not hormone-treated beef is included.

UK deals close door on return to EU

Either way, more beef will be coming into Europe whenever the deal is concluded.

As well as the extra beef, all the deals that are entered into by the UK make the possibility of the UK re-entering the single market or even re-joining the EU more difficult.

In the lead-up to the UK joining originally in 1973, one of the difficulties was accommodating the huge volumes of New Zealand lamb being imported by the UK at the time.

A solution was found that involved the 228,000t quota becoming shared with the EU partners and this was divided between both parties when the UK left the EU.

With the UK entering trade deals which give wide access to the UK market for goods, it makes any potential return of the UK to the single market more complicated because if the UK was in the single market, this product would be free to circulate anywhere in the EU.

If the standard was adjusted to accept hormone-fed beef, then it would completely infringe on EU policy.

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