Free trade

Revealed: How the UK-Australia deal was struck

The basis of the UK’s first bespoke trade deal since leaving the EU was finalised with Australia over two dinners. One took place in the garden of the residence of the Australian High Commissioner to the UK, where guests were fed Australian lamb. The other in Downing Street where Welsh lamb was on the menu. They were menu choices that pointed both to what the deal would achieve – zero tariffs, including on agricultural goods – and the main point of contention in a negotiation that has spanned nearly a year since talks began last June. In that time, there has been a Cabinet row over protectionism on Australian meat imports and

The emptiness of the UK-India trade deal

Britain and India have been trading for over 400 years. For 190 of those, between 1757 and 1947, the subcontinent was close to being a captive market of the United Kingdom. Today commercial turnover between the two nations is a mere £23 billion — a tenth of the goods and services traffic between Britain and the European Union. For many Leave voters, Boris Johnson included, expanding trade ties beyond the EU’s borders was a major motivation for Brexit. India was seen as both an exciting emerging market but also a nation that is culturally entwined with this one. However, five years after Britain voted to depart the lucrative single market,

What the UK wants from a trade deal with the USA

On Monday, the Department for International Trade released its negotiating objectives for a UK-USA free trade agreement. The 184-page document explains in detail what the UK wants to get out of a trade deal with America. The British government will try to angle the talks, which begin this month, towards securing a comprehensive arrangement – that is, a deal that covers a broad range of areas including digital, finance, tech, manufacturing and agriculture. If secured, it estimates this could translate into a £3.4 billion boost to the UK economy. The government has put its ‘leveling up’ agenda at front and centre of these trade talks, laying out how each region potentially stands

Brexit talks resume – and the war of words is back on

Downing Street briefings that the EU is ‘moving the goalposts’ for a free trade agreement and is belatedly demanding that the UK should not be compelled to maintain standards on state aid, competition, workers rights and environment seem either flaky or deliberately designed to once again cast Brussels as a duplicitous enemy. If you look at the March 2018 EU Council guidelines (below) for the future relationship between the EU and the UK and the actually-agreed framework for the future relationship agreed in October 2019 (also below), the importance for the EU of maintaining a level playing field between the UK and EU is explicit. The most important phrase in

The free trade deal Britain must sign up to after Brexit

Now the UK is leaving the EU, Boris Johnson’s government can start planning a serious trade strategy for life after Brexit. So far the focus has been on a UK/US free trade agreement. But before that, the initial challenge for Britain will be to establish a rational set of priorities. First, the government must ask what resources is it prepared to commit to trade policy? Second, it needs to establish what trade agreements would be most beneficial to the UK economy. After all, there’s no point in giving priority to a laborious trade negotiation with, say, Burkina Faso, if the benefits of that agreement would be very limited. And third,