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Brexit and Europe Brexit and Europe

Secure new trade agreements with other countries

Last updated: 02:43pm 14 October 2019

We will […] secure new trade agreements with other countries.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.36

Our verdict

This policy could just as easily belong in the ‘economy’ category, but the backdrop to this is the need for the UK to find new trade deals – both with the EU and with other countries – after we exit the EU. This policy focuses on trade agreements with countries outside the EU (see ‘Related policies’ below for trading with the EU).

Trade deals can include any agreement with one other country (called a bilateral free-trade agreement) or with multiple countries. Member states in the EU enjoy free trade with each other, and are also automatically part of about 40 trade agreements with countries outside the EU.

It is these trade agreement that the government wishes to replicate .

The initial challenge here was that EU insisted the UK cannot negotiate trade deals with other countries until after Brexit. This rule is part of the withdrawal agreement, and includes the transition period that was proposed until December 2020. Once we leave the EU, the UK will trade with under World Trade Organisation rules, as it does with many other countries already.

However, since January 2019, trade deals have been emerging at a steady pace, so this policy looks to be progressing ahead of the Brexit deadline. A first deal in Asia has also been agreed – with South Korea.

We’re therefore marking this as ‘in progress’, and will update this page as the number of trade deals increases. Based on the manifesto simply promising “new trade agreements with other countries”, we’re not necessarily looking for all of the 40 trade agreements to be replicated. Follow this policy for updates.

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