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Britain's Secretary of State of International Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss outside Downing Street, in London, on March 17, 2020.

HENRY NICHOLLS/Reuters

Britain is determined to reach a trade deal with Canada before the end of the year, trade minister Liz Truss said on Thursday, underlining that after securing a continuity agreement the two countries could go much further.

Britain is negotiating several bilateral trade deals to come into force once it exits a transition arrangement with the European Union at the end of this year, and many of them would simply replace the terms the bloc had already agreed.

After leaving the EU in January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to shape a “global Britain” that can strike out alone and negotiate better agreements than the bloc. But so far, his critics point out, the deals are largely the same.

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Asked in parliament about how talks with Canada were progressing, Truss said: “We’re determined to reach a deal with Canada before the end of the year.”

“What we’re negotiating at the moment is the vital continuity agreement but I do hope that in the future, as Canada is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership ... that we will be able to go much further and build a much deeper relationship with Canada.”

A spokesman for Johnson added that the talks were “at an advanced stage and are progressing well”.

He said that in less than two years, the government had signed or agreed in principle trade agreements with 52 countries, accounting for 142 billion pounds of British bilateral trade.

This accounted for 74% of the value of trade with non-EU countries that the UK set out to secure agreements with under the trade continuity programme. From this programme, 13 agreements remained outstanding, including the deal with Canada, he said.

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