Brexit and Trade

Strategic Communications

August 30, 2016

If trade policy has always been important to the UK, it is now more so than ever before. In this snapshot, FTI brings perspective to just what the UK will have to do to try to maintain its status as a global trade leader as it moves forward apart from the European Union.

If you think divorce proceedings are tough – try negotiating a modern, deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (not an old-fashioned tariff-only deal). It can be a long, very long, drawn-out process to get it right. If you want to understand the true meaning of ‘patience’ then become a trade negotiator – and you would be in luck since the UK is apparently on the lookout for several hundred. The UK government has admitted it lacks skilled trade negotiators since the European Commission’s trade department has undertaken trade negotiations on behalf of all the EU member states for the past several decades.

Make no mistake about it – trade negotiations are complicated. The EU-Canada trade deal (CETA) took some five years to negotiate and is more than 1500 pages long. If the deal is ever fully ratified and put into action remains to be seen – but the full process from a first scoping exercise to agree on the focus of future talks to launching actual negotiations to implementation will likely take just shy of a decade. On that basis – and given that Brexit is still some years away – it is hard to see the UK being able to strike any significant trade deals before about 2025 at the earliest.


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