UK Businesses are facing up to £80bn trade loss as a result of the government’s failure to move the country over up to 15 EU trade deals with other countries in time, rather, it has remained trapped in post-Brexit trade negotiations with the bloc.
Britain has less than 60 days to ramp up free-trade agreements with countries like Mexico, Singapore and Canada so as to replace the ones it will lose access to after the transition period on 31 December.
The shadow international trade secretary, Emily Thornberry has written to trade secretary Liz Truss on Tuesday pointing out that there may not be enough Parliamentary time under the law for MPs to do their part if these deals are not concluded and published by November 11.
An analysis report by The Independent has shown that the missing deals, which also include accords with Turkey, Egypt and Algeria could see tariffs and quotas imposed on £38bn of British exports and £41bn of imports, potentially causing havoc for some firms.
Allie Renison who’s the head of Europe and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, said it was important for UK businesses that these other deals are moved over.
“While the government is doing a lot of running just to stand still, the value of continuity in a world full of uncertainty should not be understated. Businesses need as much stability on trade as possible, and countries jealously guard access to their markets, so these rollovers should not be taken for granted,” she said.
Meanwhile, a Trade Department spokesperson said, “We are considering all possible options to maintain continuity of existing trade terms and will look to sign further agreements in the coming weeks. We are working with our partners to ensure that signed continuity agreements with all 52 partner countries are able to enter into force after the end of the transition period.”
Sam Lowe, a senior fellow at the Centre of European Reform said, “It now seems likely that the UK will manage to roll over the majority of the EU’s trade agreements by the end of the year. Of those outstanding, Canada, Singapore and Vietnam will probably be done in the coming weeks, but Mexico will be a struggle.
“Perhaps the most important one of those left to do is also among the trickiest: Turkey. Turkey is in a customs union with the EU, which means that it can only strike a trade deal with the UK if the EU also does so. Assuming the EU and UK do reach an agreement, this still doesn’t leave a lot of time to get everything sorted with Turkey.”
Turkey’s business with the UK was worth £18bn in 2019 alone, making it one of the biggest missing links on the list of deals yet to be signed. Canada’s £22bn trade is the only one among the countries holding out that beats Turkey with it been ahead of Singapore’s £17bn trade.