Following Brexit, the UK is free to strike new trade deals for selling goods and services around the world. The government is also continuing negotiations for a new trade agreement with the European Union (EU). What trade agreements with non-EU countries has the UK signed so far?
Trade agreements until 31 December 2020
The UK has left the EU. The Withdrawal Agreement sets out how the UK is able to continue to be covered by EU-third country trade agreements until 31 December 2020. On this basis, EU trade agreements can continue to apply to the UK.
Where EU trade agreements apply, UK and EU content will continue to count toward the rules of origin requirements in EU trade agreements until 31 December 2020, in exactly the same way as now. The EU has issued a notification to third countries outlining this approach.
Trade agreements from 1 January 2021
After 31 December 2020, EU trade agreements will not apply to the UK. The UK is seeking to reproduce the effects of existing EU agreements for when they no longer apply to the UK. This will ensure continuity of trading arrangements for UK businesses.
If the UK does not reproduce the effects of an existing EU agreement, trade with other World Trade Organization (WTO) members will take place on WTO terms when EU trade agreements cease to apply to the UK.
Trade agreements that have been signed
Agreements with the following countries and trading blocs are expected to take effect when existing EU trade agreements no longer apply to the UK, from 1 January 2021: Andean countries, CARIFORUM trade bloc, Central America, Chile, Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) trade bloc, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Iceland, Norway, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Pacific States, Palestinian Authority, South Korea, Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACUM) trade bloc, Switzerland and Tunisia.
Trade agreements still in discussion
The following agreements are still under discussion with countries where there are existing EU trade agreements in place. If an agreement is not reached by 31 December 2020, trade with other WTO members will take place on WTO terms: Albania (Western Balkans), Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Western Balkans), Cameroon (Central Africa), Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, East African Community (EAC), Egypt, Ghana (Western Africa), Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro (Western Balkans), North Macedonia (Western Balkans), Serbia (Western Balkans), Singapore and Ukraine.
Trade agreement discussions with countries in Customs Unions with the EU
Andorra, San Marino and Turkey are part of Customs Unions with the EU. The UK’s future trading relationship with these countries will be influenced by the agreement the UK reaches with the EU.
Trade agreement discussions with Japan
The UK and Japan have agreed to negotiate a new bilateral agreement using the existing EU agreement as a base, looking for opportunities to enhance areas of mutual interest.
Mutual recognition agreements
A mutual recognition agreement (MRA) is one in which countries recognise the results of one another’s conformity assessments. A conformity assessment is a set of processes that confirm whether a product meets the specified legal requirements. This can include testing, inspection, and certification.
The UK has signed MRAs that replicate the effect of existing EU arrangements. These are expected to take effect from 1 January 2021. The withdrawal agreement allows for the EU’s arrangements to continue to apply to the UK until then. The UK has signed MRAs with Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America.
MRA coverage in trade agreements
The UK’s trade agreement with Switzerland incorporates elements of the EU-Switzerland MRA. The UK’s trade agreement with Israel covers conformity assessment of industrial products. This means that existing arrangements with Israel will continue after 31 December 2020.
MRA discussions with Japan
Discussions with Japan on a UK-Japan MRA are ongoing. The UK and Japan have signed an exchange of letters designed to ensure the continuity of existing arrangements as a temporary measure.