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LONDON: Britain and Canada agreed Saturday to continue trading together under existing EU terms when the current Brexit transition period ends shortly, the UK government said. The Department of International Trade said the deal "locked in" the two countries' existing £20 billion ($26 billion, EUR22 billion) trading relationship and set the stage for further negotiations.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau agreed in the Saturday video call to rollover current EU-Canada trading arrangements and begin negotiations on a new, UK-Canada trade deal in 2021.

Johnson said in a statement the "fantastic agreement" ensured trade with one of Britain's closest allies would go "from strength to strength". "Our negotiators have been working flat out to secure trade deals for the UK, and from as early next year we have agreed to start work on a new, bespoke trade deal with Canada that will go even further in meeting the needs of our economy," he added.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the agreement created "certainty for thousands of jobs".

"The UK is bonded by history, culture and transatlantic trade with our friends and allies in Canada," she said.

The UK has said the agreement with Canada will avoid £42 million in tariffs on British exports.

Last week, Trudeau said Ottawa and London should be able to agree an "easy" trade deal by the end of the year but added that Britain's "bandwidth" for negotiations was a challenge as it holds talks with several major trade partners at the same time.

Britain is currently locked in fraught talks with the European Union to set the terms of their future trading relationship for when the post-Brexit transition period ends on December 31.

Following its referendum vote in 2016 to leave the EU, Britain can now strike trade deals of its own. London is in a rush to secure as many as possible to mitigate any economic hit caused by more restrictive economic relations with the European bloc, which is by far its biggest market.