The Government has published a technical note entitled ‘International Agreements during the Implementation Period’, which sets out how it would like to maintain the UK’s existing trade agreements with non-EU countries, from which we currently benefit as an EU member state, during any transition period. The proposal is essentially for the relevant non-EU countries to continue to treat the UK as an EU member state during any transition period, thus allowing our existing trade deals to continue to function as they do now.
The document admits that the proposal relies on securing agreement from the countries in question, stating that: “The key requirement would be the clear agreement of the parties that the underlying treaty continued to apply to the UK during the implementation period.”
This appears to be the first time the Government has conceded that gaining such agreement from other countries is not guaranteed. Lord Price, former minister at the Department for International Trade, has previously claimed that “all have agreed [to] roll over.”
Commenting, Caroline Lucas MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“Liam Fox and his Trade department have been trying to pretend for months that all our existing trade deals as an EU member state will just be rolled over or renegotiated, no problem. Now we know this was all just posturing from a Minister who has placed himself and the country in an impossibly weak negotiating position.
“Liam Fox’s ideological commitment to wrenching the UK out of the Customs Union, largely to give himself a job to do, is putting our existing trade deals with around 65 countries across the world at risk.
“’Global Britain’ was always a meaningless slogan, but now it’s fast becoming a bad joke: far from promoting a free-trade vision, a hard Brexit will leave us weakened on the international stage and less prosperous at home. People have a right to keep an open mind as to whether that’s a price worth paying for Brexit.”
Notes to editors:
The Government’s full technical note on International Agreements can be read here.
The tweet from Lord Price in which he claimed all countries party to our existing trade deals as an EU member state have agreed to roll them over can be read here.