Post-Brexit trade deals: what’s been agreed and what could still come? | International trade

Post-Brexit trade deals: what’s been agreed and what could still come? | International trade

Negotiations over a trade deal between the UK and Canada have been halted after disagreements on beef and cheese tariffs.The ability for the UK to secure its own global free trade deals was sold as one major benefit from the UK’s decision to leave the EU but progress has been mixed. Here we look at what agreements have been struck so far and with whom, and which other important economies are still at the negotiating table and why.Trade deals agreed so farJapan When in late 2020 the then international secretary, Liz Truss, signed the UK’s first major post-Brexit free trade agreement, she said that when it came into force the next year it would boost trade between the two countries by billions of pounds annually.However, exports to Japan have not quite received the turbo charge promised, falling to £11.9bn in the year to June 2022, from £12.3bn the year before. This included a 4.9% fall in export for goods, to £6.1bn, while services fell 2%, to £5.8bn.Australia The deal in December 2021 was almost entirely focused on goods, with tariffs being eliminated on exports from both countries for a 15-year period. The government said it would unlock £10.4bn of additional trade with the country by the 2030s while ending tariffs on all UK exports.Others were not so positive, with UK farmers angry that Australia had been given full access to sell beef and sheep meat in the UK while there was a ban on beef going the other way. A year later, George Eustice, the former environment minister who was part of the negotiations, said it “was not actually a very good deal for Britain” and “gave away far too much for far too little in return”.New Zealand This February 2022 deal largely mirrored the Australian one, with similar concerns from UK meat farmers about being undercut by cheaper imports. Tariffs of up to 10% on products were removed from most products, while visa restrictions for travel and residency were eased.The government estimated that this would add £800m a year to the UK economy by the mid-2030s but the overall impact was negligible, representing just a 0.03% boost to GDP by 2035. The Australian and New Zealand trade deals came into effect in last May.The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership While technically not a new trade deal, the UK’s joining of the CPTPP means a range of export products can be traded tariff-free with the member nations, which include Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada and Mexico but not the US. The deal, agreed last March, also means countries must adhere to certain unified regulations, such as food standards.However, the CPTPP arrangements can be overridden by individual trade deals with specific countries, which is why the UK is still trying to secure direct deals with member states such as Canada. Analysis has found that exporting to countries in the CPTPP accounted for 8% of UK exports in 2019, less than the UK’s total trade with Germany.The deals still not struckThe US Negotiations began in May 2020 and nearly four years later there is no prospect of an agreement any time soon. Last month Joe Biden signalled he had shelved plans for a deal until at least after this November’s US presidential election.India When negotiations began between India and the UK at the start of 2022, it was hoped that by as early as that October there would be a deal reducing tariffs on exports such as cars and Scottish whisky and providing better access to the world’s fifth biggest economy. However, we are still waiting, with experts saying any pact is unlikely before the Indian national elections this spring.Others As well as Canada, talks are continuing with other nations including Israel, Mexico and South Korea. The UK began negotiating with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in July 2022. Experts have predicted that a deal with Switzerland, which is the sixth biggest market for the UK to export services to, could be the next reached.

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