University of Sussex
Beaulieu_July_2019_Can-UK_paper_on_progressive_FTA.pdf (397.4 kB)

Canada-UK free trade: balancing progressive trade policies and economic benefits

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posted on 2023-06-09, 18:10 authored by Kamala Dawar, Eugene Beaulieu, Lindsey Garner-Knapp
The United Kingdom (UK) and Canada face considerable uncertainty as they respectively manage relations with their largest trading partners: both the UK's withdrawal from the European Union (EU) post-Brexit and an aggressive American pivot toward a protectionist trade agenda threaten stability and economic prosperity in both countries. Given the current political and economic climate, both countries have a similar interest in quickly forging a mutually beneficial bilateral trade agreement. There are good reasons to believe that this is possible: Canada and the United Kingdom historically have a strong commercial relationship that continues to today. The UK is Canada’s fifth-largest merchandise trade partner and Canada is the UK’s eighth biggest export market. Moreover, the UK is the second largest source of FDI to Canada and Canada’s second most significant destination for FDI abroad. For Canada-UK bilateral trade negotiations to be successful, policy makers must directly address the reasons why the UK voted for Brexit and why the recent US election resulted in a populist administration with a protectionist agenda, and what the calls for sovereignty entail. Research suggests that displaced labour and populations who have not benefited from free trade are supporters of the current protectionist movements. Other public interest groups criticize globalisation for failing to safeguard adequate environmental and human rights standards. The research proposed here will examine how Canada and the UK can deliver on a trade agenda that is progressive in nature and inclusive in impact and one that is supported by both Canadian and UK citizens-as-voters. Drawing lessons from recent free trade negotiations such as CETA, TTIP, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will highlight both good and bad practice in building support to overcome domestic opposition. Our proposal identifies key areas that represent civil society’s critique of FTAs that need to be addressed in a Canada-UK trade agreement to gain societal support: 1) Fair and free trade: Providing safeguards to protect environment and social standards, including labour adjustment supports. What are the most effective rules, education and re-training programs that can be embedded in an FTA? 2) Effective consumer protection: to ensure the benefits of free trade agreements are felt and understood by consumers, particularly the vulnerable or marginalised. 3) Smart government procurement policy: allowing policy space to promote small businesses, while ensuring value for money. 4) Sustainable FDI rules which take account of sustainable development concerns. 5) Ensuring the sub-national provinces and devolved regions of the UK engaged in negotiations. This proposed research identifies how Canada and the UK can take advantage of this unique opportunity and design a ‘next generation’ trade agreement that is both comprehensive and progressive in nature, while delivering tangible benefits to both societies.


Creating a Progressive Canada-UK Free Trade Agreement: Gaining Civil Support in a Post-Brexit World; G2437; ESRC SSHRC; ES/S008519/1


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