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The UK trade landscape after Brexit

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posted on 2023-06-09, 06:26 authored by Emily LydgateEmily Lydgate, Jim Rollo, Rorden Wilkinson
The UK will need to negotiate more than 100 new trade agreements if it leaves the EU customs union. • Negotiations with the WTO and the EU are the most pressing. If the UK does not manage to reset its place in the WTO before leaving the EU, this could lead to legal and diplomatic complexities and possible trade conflicts. • Trade partners in regional and bilateral agreements may want to change the terms of their existing agreements; and the UK may wish to include services trade – which is of increasing importance to its commercial performance – in these arrangements. • To reduce the negotiation load, the UK could opt for temporary ‘peace clauses’ to maintain existing terms of trade during negotiations. • In view of the narrow base of domestic expertise in conducting trade negotiations, the UK will need to recruit and train a large body of new specialist staff; these negotiators will have to consult with domestic vested interests as well as negotiate with the European Commission and external governments. • If the UK is to expose its markets to greater competition, it also needs to be ready to help potentially disadvantaged groups at home to adjust. • To ease negotiations with third countries, joining existing (or intended) mega-regional agreements could be advantageous; however, doing so may also result in loss of sovereignty. • The most immediate challenges the UK faces arise from its reduced negotiating power as a sole actor, the initial lack of personnel and training in trade negotiation, time pressure, and concerns that the EU will seek to play hardball in order to discourage other member states from leaving the union.


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UK Trade Policy Observatory



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