UK signs trade deal with Canada to prepare for Brexit

LONDON (AP) — The U.K. signed an interim trade deal with Canada on Saturday, the second major agreement the country has reached as negotiators hurry to cement trading relationships in preparation for life outside the European Union.

While Britain formally withdrew from the EU in January, it continues to trade with other countries under the bloc’s umbrella during a transition period that is scheduled to end Dec. 31. Without a series of new bilateral agreements, trade with countries around the world may be hampered by barriers such as tariffs and increased paperwork.

The U.K. government says the stopgap agreement paves the way for future negotiations on a new tailor-made U.K.-Canada trade deal.

“This is is a fantastic agreement for Britain which secures trans-Atlantic trade with one of our closest allies. British businesses export everything from electric cars to sparkling wine to Canada, and today’s deal will ensure that trade goes from strength to strength,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

“Our negotiators have been working flat-out to secure trade deals for the U.K., and from as early next year we have agreed to start work on a new, bespoke trade deal with Canada that will go even further in meeting the needs of our economy.”

The deal with Canada follows an agreement struck last month with Japan, which largely replicated existing trading arrangements.

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