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[OTTAWA] Canada will want to bolster trade with Britain after it secedes from the European Union, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured Wednesday.
"The United Kingdom remains a friend and ally and economic partner and we will, of course, work with them as they go through the transition that they're embarking upon," Mr Trudeau said.
"We'll continue to look for ways to create closer trade ties and opportunities for better jobs and economic growth that benefits both of our countries and we will continue to engage as friends and allies."
Britain is Canada's fourth-biggest trading partner, but would be excluded from a Canada-EU trade pact once it leaves the EU in two years - a deadline prompted when British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier Wednesday triggered formal divorce proceedings.
Parliament members in both London and Ottawa have called for swift negotiations on a separate bilateral trade deal in order to mitigate any trade disruptions.
Officials have suggested that the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) would be a good base for negotiations.
But Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne poured cold water on that idea, saying last week that it was "premature" to discuss a trade agreement with Britain at the same time as Britain was in EU exit talks.
Officially Britain cannot enter into trade talks until it has left the EU.
Until the divorce is finalised, however, Britain will benefit from Ceta, which will provisionally come into force in a few weeks.