As the aftermath of Brexit continues to unfold, news of trade agreements being signed between the UK and other nations is cause for both celebration and scrutiny. On one hand, securing these deals is a necessary step towards maintaining the UK’s economic stability post-Brexit. On the other hand, the terms of these agreements have the potential to shape the UK’s future relationships with its international partners for years to come.
The first major agreement to be signed was with Japan, one of the UK’s largest trading partners. The deal was announced in September 2020 and is expected to increase UK-Japan trade by around £15bn per year. It includes provisions for reduced tariffs on British goods such as whisky and automobiles, as well as increased access for UK service providers to the Japanese market.
Another significant agreement was signed with Canada in November 2020. The deal replicates the terms of the existing Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which the UK was previously party to as a member of the EU. This means that UK businesses will continue to enjoy the same trade benefits with Canada as they did before Brexit, including tariff-free access for 98% of goods.
The UK has also signed trade deals with smaller nations such as Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein, which collectively make up the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). These agreements are important for the UK’s access to the European Economic Area (EEA), which allows for the free movement of goods, services, people, and capital within the region. While the UK is no longer a member of the EU, its continued participation in the EEA through these agreements is a key factor in maintaining the country’s economic ties with Europe.
While these agreements are undoubtedly a positive development for the UK, they are not without their challenges. In particular, the terms of the agreements have raised concerns about the potential impact on UK standards and regulations. For example, the Japan-UK deal includes provisions for the recognition of each other’s conformity assessments, which could mean that goods produced to lower standards in one country could be sold in the other.
There are also concerns about the UK’s ability to negotiate with larger trading partners such as the US and China. Both countries have been vocal about their desire to secure favorable trade terms with the UK, which could potentially result in the UK making concessions on issues such as food standards and intellectual property rights.
In conclusion, the signing of trade agreements post-Brexit is a critical step in maintaining the UK’s economic stability and global relationships. While these deals bring about their own set of challenges, it is essential that the UK continues to negotiate fair and balanced terms with its trading partners to ensure the best possible outcomes for its citizens and businesses.