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Small businesses from both sides of the Atlantic set out UK-Canada FTA asks as talks launch

Toronto, March 25, 2022 - The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) write to Trade Ministers Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Mary Ng to outline measures needed in future agreement to ensure small business access.

The organizations call for a dedicated SME chapter, committee, and helpdesk as well as measures to promote digital trade and minimize non-tariff barriers. Previous FSB research shows one in three small UK exporters sees Canada as a top export market.

FSB and CFIB are calling on governments on both sides of the Atlantic to promote the interests of small businesses within any future UK-Canada free trade agreement (FTA) as talks kick off today. 

In letters to their respective trade ministers, the groups welcome launch of the talks as a significant opportunity to create a new FTA with one of our longest-standing partners that will set world-leading precedents for growing small business participation in international trade and enhancing a vital trading relationship. 

Latest figures from ONS show that total trade between the UK and Canada was $36 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2021 – an increase of 20.5% or $6.2 billion from the same period in 2020.

In their correspondence, FSB and CFIB recommend:

  • Including a dedicated comprehensive SME chapter as part of the deal, as a minimum, but with the aim of including pro small enterprise measures throughout.
  • Setting up an SME Committee for the deal, comprising government and private sector representatives, which should be consulted on all areas that affect small businesses.
  • Incorporating relevant small business-friendly provisions consistently throughout all chapters of the future FTA.
  • Creating a dedicated SME helpdesk and information hub to help firms navigate the FTA.
  • Simplifying cross-border procedures and paperless trade to increase efficiency and reduce trade transactions costs for small businesses. 
  • Including measures to facilitate e-commerce through a dedicated digital trade chapter, such as enabling the free flow of data and promoting low-cost forms of electronic payments. 

“There is a clear appetite among small businesses to start exporting or increasing the value of their exports, and we are eager to see a new UK-Canada FTA which builds on the foundations of the Trade Continuity Agreement signed in 2020,” the letter reads. 

It adds, “Smaller businesses often do not have the resources to access other markets as large organizations do, so deepening market access while minimizing trade friction and tackling the disproportionate impact of non-tariff barriers on small businesses will be essential to further boosting trade at this critical time.”

FSB National Chair Martin McTague said: “As small firms all over the world continue to grapple with the effects of supply chain disruption, making every effort to promote frictionless international free trade will be fundamental to our global recovery.  

“Too often when we talk about international trade, the focus is on big corporates. It is our small importers and exporters that spur local economies. Their success will be fundamental to attainment of the UK Government’s levelling up vision. 

“It has been great working with CFIB to set out the measures that should be taken forward in these welcome talks to get more of our small firms doing business internationally, with all the benefits that brings in terms of innovation, productivity, and profitability."

“These talks are an important opportunity for Canada and the UK to bring their respective small business communities to the table by ensuring that their unique needs and challenges are represented in any future agreement. CFIB is pleased to work with our FSB counterparts to present our joint recommendations,” said Dan Kelly, President and CEO of CFIB. 

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB
647-464-2814
[email protected]

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.

March 25, 2022

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