Trade Knowledge Exchange > Trade Partnerships > UK Partnerships with Non EU Countries

UK Partnerships with Non EU Countries

Around 55% of the UK’s merchandise exports go outside the EU.  The figure is higher for services: around 60-65%.  Once the UK leaves the EU, it is likely that it will be able to define its own trade policy vis a vis the rest of the world. So what are the issues?

At present, trade relationships between the UK and the rest of the world are managed through the EU’s common commercial policy. The policy has defined the UK’s trade regime vis a vis the rest of the world, through WTO commitments, through regional agreements conclude by the EU, and through unilateral preference schemes implemented by the EU.

On leaving the EU, the UK will exit the EU’s common commercial policy. It will then face a number of choices and challenges. In particular:

  • How will it finalise its position at the WTO by extricating its commitments for the EU, particularly in areas such as agriculture subsidies and tariff-rate quotas, and in aspects of services trade?
  • Should it continue to apply MFN tariffs it has inherited from the EU, or should it liberalise further? If so, should it do so unilaterally, on a non-discriminatory basis, or reciprocally, through free trade agreements?
  • On services, where the UK, like many others, applies significantly lower levels of restrictions than are reflected in its WTO commitments, similar questions apply.
  • What should the UK’s approach to trade preferences be?
  • How should it establish priorities given limits to institutional capacity

These issues are not solely the UK’s. The EU itself will need to finalise its new schedules of commitments at the WTO. More broadly, the EU will also need to define its approach to trade policy, and this without the input of one its strongest liberalising influences.

The articles in this section assess these issues from a variety of perspectives, and provide a starting point for developing a new template for the UK’s trade policy.

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Commentary

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        President Trump’s state visit has once again brought the question of a UK-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) back into the headlines. The US administration has on previous occasions expressed its readiness to begin negotiations with the UK. And in early 2019, the US Trade Representative’s office released its negotiating objectives. The breadth and depth of […]

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            The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released negotiating objectives for a prospective Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK. The publication of such objectives is a routine event before the US enters into any trade negotiations. But it made headlines in the UK, which has little or no direct experience of trade negotiations. The […]

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