Government officials have admitted for the first time that they will not be able to renegotiate all trade treaties involving the European Union by the end of March, with International trade secretary Liam Fox confirming that negotiations with some countries have now been prioritised over others.
Key trade deals include Japan (2% of UK trade), Turkey (1% of UK trade) and South Korea (1% of UK trade).
In response, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“Securing roll-over of EU trade agreements in time for the end of March has been one of DIT’s primary objectives since it was established. My Committee has repeatedly warned about the considerable risks of not achieving this and it looks like officials are now admitting what has been suspected for a long time: the UK will not be able to roll over all of the EU’s trade agreements with third countries in time for 29 March.
“It is no surprise that countries in the market are acting freely in their own interest rather than just meeting the UK's expectations. It is time for Dr Fox to face facts and admit this – particularly to businesses, who are in urgent need of proper guidance. Failure to do so could leave businesses unprepared for a change in trading arrangements with some key markets – and the impact for some could be devastating.”
In March 2019, the Committee published a report into the Continuing application of EU trade agreements after Brexit.