Britain is on the cusp of securing a post-Brexit free trade deal with Canada as Downing Street said talks were at an “advanced stage” and “progressing well”.
The UK has so far only reached an agreement with Japan, but is also seeking deals with Australia, New Zealand, the US and the European Union before the end of the year.
Bloomberg reported that an announcement on a deal with Canada was expected “within days”.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau last week suggested the two sides were struggling to reach an agreement because British negotiators were out of practice, but Boris Johnson’s official spokesman told a briefing for Westminster journalists on Thursday morning that talks were progressing.
He said: “We are committed to securing a continuity trade deal with Canada before the end of the transition period.
“Talks are at an advanced stage and are progressing well.”
Mr Johnson warned earlier this week that it was “far from certain” that Britain would get a post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels by the end of the year.
Talks have been continuing this week in Brussels between the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart Lord Frost.
However with hopes of a breakthrough this week receding, it is unclear whether the two sides will be prepared to carry on talking into next week if there is still no agreement.
The current Brexit transition period ends at the end of the year when Britain will finally leave the single market and the customs union and any deal would have to be ratified by UK and European parliaments before then.