How will the UK’s free trade deals help British businesses?
29 Oct 2021
Since officially leaving the European Union earlier this year, the UK has been free to strike its own international trade deals with markets from around the world.
But what deals have been agreed, and how will they help British businesses?
In this blog, we are going to explore how far the UK has come since leaving the EU.
Rollover trade agreements
Despite leaving the single market, the UK has managed to retain many of the trade agreements agreed while it was an EU Member State. It means British businesses can continue to trade freely, or on beneficial terms, with 63 countries without lifting a finger.
A further seven countries, meanwhile, are in ongoing negotiations with the UK in a bid to roll over existing deals.
The 63 countries include Canada, a trade deal worth over £17 billion a year, Singapore (£14 billion), Switzerland (£34 billion) and Turkey (£15 billion).
UK-EU free trade deal
The UK-EU deal came into force on 1 January 2021 after years of negotiation. While limiting freedom of movement, the agreement prevented any tariffs and quotas from being introduced, making it cheaper to trade with the single market.
It also means that the UK is no longer required follow strict EU product standards, but as a by-product, more checks and inspections need to be carried out at the border.
UK-US trade deal
Existing deals with the US are limited, but progress has been made. For example, the UK is now allowed to export British beef to US markets after a 20-year hiatus.
A comprehensive free-trade deal, however, is reported to be off the table for now.
UK-Australia and New Zealand free trade deal
The UK agreed a free trade deal with Australia in June. The deal is expected to boost British exports by millions of pounds each year and cut red tape, making it easier for businesses to transport their products ‘down under’.
A “historic” free-trade deal with New Zealand was also struck this month.
UK-Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein free trade deal
The deal, agreed in July, will boost sectors such as digital, financial, and professional business services by introducing a range of new digital provisions, such as data sharing and electric documents, contracts, and signatures.
The agreement will also “slash tariffs” and red tape on British exports, saving British firms time and money.
UK-Japan free trade deal
The UK’s first major trade deal as an independent nation, the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is expected to boost trade with Japan by an estimated £15.2 billion each year.
The deal includes “cutting edge” digital and data provisions, improved market access for UK financial services, tariff-free access for more UK goods, new and more liberal Rules of Origin for certain products, new protections for UK goods and services, and improved mobility for businesspeople.
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