MEPs from the International Trade and Economics Committees in the European Parliament have written to international trade secretary, Liam Fox, challenging him to publish a list of countries that have agreed to continue to trade with the UK as if it were an EU country during the transition period. The letter from Molly and Jude Kirton-Darling MEP points to the fact that 36 EU trade agreements span more than 60 countries, and while the EU has assured the UK it will ask these countries to treat the UK as an EU member during the tradition period, this is not binding and the UK’s trading partners will need to consent to this arrangement.
Molly, who sits on the Economics committee, said:
“Dr Fox – he of ‘the easiest trade deal in human history’ fame – seems to be finding it tricky to confirm even which countries that have Free Trade Agreements with the EU will treat us as equal trading partners during the transition period. Although his department has published details of a few agreements it has reached in case of No Deal, this has distracted attention from the serious threats even if we do get a deal.
“The countries the EU has signed trade deals with are under no obligation to continue allowing UK companies to export under the same conditions during the transition period. This leaves our exporting companies in the lurch as they wait to see whether countries they currently export to will require different arrangements or charge higher tariffs in just one month’s time.”
Jude Kirton-Darling, a Labour MEP who sits on the International Trade committee, said:
“Two years of inaction from the government means that it is impossible to tell how goods that are on their way to Japan or Korea will be treated when they arrive, because there is still nothing in place from 29th March to replace the EU trade deals we are set to leave. The EU offered to keep extending the benefit of these trade deals to the UK during the transition period, but we still need our trading partners to agree to this. At this stage our exporters urgently need clarity and therefore we’ve asked Liam Fox to come clean.”