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Brexit: Roll-over EU agreements affect future UK trade policy, says Lords Committee

Although the Government's new free trade agreement with Korea may look like a rollover of the existing arrangement, it has the potential to have far-reaching and complex implications for future trade policy.

The House of Lords EU Select Committee has today published a report on the Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Korea. Some of the concerns are specific to the agreement, whereas other apply to the Government's overall approach to trade policy.   

Key points from the report:

  • Lack of scrutiny – the trade agreement leaves a gap in Parliament's ability to scrutinise significant amendments if they do not require changes to domestic law
  • Renegotiations – as with other trade agreements, the Government has committed to a renegotiation within two years, raising the prospect of changes to the deal, and concerns about the availability of resources to conduct simultaneous renegotiations and new trade deals 
  • Agricultural producers – some provisions (tariff rate quotas) used by the UK's agricultural sector to sell into Korea with a preferential tariff rate are not rolled-over
  • Most-favoured nation provision – the agreement commits to a most-favoured nation provision in services, simply this means that any preferable trade agreements in services reached with other countries would have to also be offered to Korea (and vice versa)

Chair of the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee, Baroness Donaghy said: “While we welcome the certainty that this trade agreement brings, it is not, as the Government has presented it, simply a straightforward continuation. The agreement can be amended, commits to starting its own renegotiation within two years and contains most favoured nation provisions—meaning that any additional market access in services offered by the UK to a third party must be offered to Korea also (and vice versa). These points raise pressing questions about the shape of the UK's future trade policy." 

Read the report in full 

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