The UK and Canada have agreed to continue trading under the same terms as the current EU agreement after the Brexit transition period ends.
The Conservative government said the agreement paved the way for negotiations to begin next year on a new comprehensive deal with Canada, which has long been trumpeted as one of the benefits of the UK leaving the EU.
Labour urged the government to secure continuity arrangements with other key trading partners before the end of the year.
Boris Johnson and his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, made the “agreement in principle” in a video call on Saturday, the Department for International Trade (DIT) said.
The UK prime minister said that work would begin from early next year to negotiate “a new, bespoke trade deal with Canada that will go even further in meeting the needs of our economy”.
The deal effectively rolls over the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement reached by the EU and Canada after seven years of negotiations. Before it is formally signed, the UK-Canada Trade Continuity Agreement will be subject to final legal checks.
Welcoming the deal, Trudeau suggested a new comprehensive trade agreement with the UK would take several years to negotiate.
Speaking during the video call – which also included the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, and her counterpart in Canada, Mary Ng – Trudeau said it meant that “now we get to continue to work on a bespoke agreement, a comprehensive agreement over the coming years that will really maximise our trade opportunities and boost things for everyone”.
The shadow international trade secretary, Emily Thornberry, welcomed the “necessary” continuity deal but called for equal urgency.
“It is now vital that Boris Johnson and Liz Truss show the same urgency in securing the other 14 outstanding continuity agreements with countries like Mexico, Ghana and Singapore, where a total of £60bn of UK trade is still at risk, and time is beginning to run out,” she said.
Industry groups expressed relief that businesses will not face higher trade tariffs with Canada next month but the British Chambers of Commerce director general, Adam Marshall, echoed Labour in warning that similar deals were urgently needed to avoid “a damaging cliff edge for both importers and exporters”.
He repeated his call for a deal to be struck with the EU, describing that as the “single most critical trade agreement our business communities need”.
The Federation of Small Businesses chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “There was always a danger that the end of the transition period would mean losing wider international market access that we enjoyed as part of EU membership.
“The fact that this new agreement upholds the small business chapter that was previously in place is very welcome. We look forward to such chapters being at the centre of all future UK trade deals.”
An EU-UK trade and security agreement is close to being finalised but the risk remains of an accidental no-deal Brexit in six weeks, with gaps on the contentious issues “slowly shrinking”, EU ambassadors have been told.
Tech investor Tim Draper says digital health care will be ‘almost free’
People wait in line to get a 15-minute rapid Covid-19 test on November 24, 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Andy Manis | Getty Images News | Getty Images
The use of technology is going to make health care “almost free around the world,” according to venture capitalist Tim Draper.
“Health care is completely going digital,” he told CNBC’s Dan Murphy during a panel discussion at FinTech Abu Dhabi, which was held virtually this year.
“That’s going to create health care that is almost free around the world,” said the founder and managing partner of early-stage venture capital firm, Draper Associates.
Ibrahim Ajami of Mubadala Investment Company, one of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds, said the coronavirus has led to “probably the most significant acceleration of technology … we will witness in our lives.” The role of technology in health care has changed, he said.
“Everything from clinical trials to drug discovery, to the transformation of health care systems and even telemedicine and personalized health — many of us are going to go through this entire Covid pandemic without ever seeing a doctor physically,” said Ajami, who is head of ventures at Mubadala.
Draper said artificial intelligence and data will help to create a “really good AI doctor” and design drugs that are unique to the person who is taking it.
He pointed to CloudMedx, a health tech company that Draper Associates invested in, which uses medical data to “do a better job of diagnosing your disease than the average doctor.” The firm announced last year that its clinical AI assistant outperformed human doctors on a modified version of the United States Medical Licensing Exam in 2019.
“You start combining that with other pieces of data – your genetic history, your blood test results, your Fitbit results, what airplane seat you sat on, the food you ate – all that data is going to be available, and that data — that’s going to create a really good AI doctor,” Draper told CNBC.
Technology also helps design medicine that is specific to the recipient, and robots are even being used in surgeries, he added.
In future, artificial intelligence will diagnose and develop the specific medicine required, he predicted. “That’s going to be a fabulous place because I think most of that can be done with very low costs.”
The early internet investor added that medical costs have been “crazy high” for many years. “Finally, we’re going to have a way of doing health care a lot cheaper.”