TORONTO — 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.
Trade lawyer 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.
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.
Carleton University’s Achim Hurrelmann agrees that the stakes are high, since the United Kingdom accounts for 40 per cent of the Canada’s merchandise trade with Europe and the E.U. is a huge market for Canadian business.