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Continuing application of EU trade agreements after Brexit inquiry launched

31 October 2017

The International Trade Committee launches an inquiry into how the UK can replicate the rights it currently has under EU trade agreements after Brexit.

Free trade agreements

The EU is party to 36 regional or bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), covering more than 60 countries. Of the UK’s top 50 export markets for goods in 2015, 10 are covered by EU trade agreements which the UK will cease to be a party to after Brexit.

The Government has stated that it intends to maintain the current position by replicating the rights that the UK presently enjoys under these agreements. The Department for International Trade has said this is its second priority after establishing the UK’s position at the World Trade Organisation.

The Committee is seeking to examine the implications of this intention, including the process and mechanisms by which such an outcome might be achieved. It will also assess the potential consequences of the UK ceasing to be party to EU FTAs, whether particular FTAs should be prioritised, and identify issues that may prove to be contentious during negotiations about the continued application of EU FTAs.

Committee Chair Angus Brendan MacNeil MP said:

"The Department for International Trade aims to ensure the UK’s current trading rights under EU FTAs are maintained following Brexit. This is an ambitious, but hugely important, goal. Our new inquiry will look at how they might go about achieving it, the Department’s preparedness for doing so in the time available, and the likelihood of eventual success. We will also look at the potential consequences of the UK not being able to enjoy the same rights as it does under these FTAs after Brexit – including higher tariffs with some key non-EU trading partners."

Submit written evidence

The Committee invites written evidence on its new inquiry with a view to holding public evidence sessions in November and December.

The Committee seeks evidence on:

  • What would be the potential consequences if the UK ceased to be a party to the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and other trade-related treaties to which the EU is a party?
  • What particular issues arise in respect of the Regional Convention on Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Preferential Rules of Origin, Mutual Recognition Agreements and bilateral trade facilitation agreements?
  • By what mechanism is it legally possible for the UK to seek continuing application of EU FTAs and other trade-related treaties after Brexit?
  • Which FTAs or other treaties should the UK prioritise in seeking continuing application? Are there any that should be allowed to lapse?
  • Which issues are likely to be the most contentious in any negotiations around the continuing application of EU FTAs and other treaties? How should the UK address them?
  • What staff and expertise will the Department for International Trade need to deal with the necessary negotiations in the time available?
  • How should the Government approach working with the devolved administrations to implement the elements of these treaties that relate to devolved matters?

Respondents should feel welcome to respond to as many or few of the questions above as they wish.

You can submit written evidence through the continuing application of EU trade agreements after Brexit inquiry page.

The deadline for written submissions is 6 December 2017.

Further information

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