A BREXIT trade minister rubbished claims that Britain will struggle to replicate its trading relationship with the EU after Brexit with other countries around the world, insisting that trade consultations had already been opened with "large-scale" deals on the horizon.
LONDON (AP) — Britain's international trade minister says it's likely the U.K. will fail to agree upon a divorce deal with the European Union before it leaves the bloc in March — the latest in a growing chorus of warnings that the negotiations are in crisis.
Amidst the flurry of ministerial resignations and appointments, the UK’s announcement that it is formally considering joining the CPTPP trade deal was easy to miss. Sam Sachdeva reports for Newsroom on the significance of the announcement, and the obstacles in the way.
LONDON — The United Kingdom's Brexit plans hit another major bump Friday when global aviation giant Airbus threatened to pull out of the country if the government leaves the European Union without a deal on future trading relations.
Rob Merrick writes in The Independent that the chief civil servant at Liam Fox’s department has acknowledged Britain could suffer a “loss of trade” with around 40 countries on Brexit day, with existing deals in doubt.
HomeGeneralFood & drink export sales soar in Brexit boost
Feb 12, 2018 -UK (STL.News) Overseas sales of UK food and drink continued to soar last year, with record exports of over £22 billion demonstrating a clear desire for British taste, quality and high standards around the world. UK food and drink businesses are now selling their products to 217 markets – with sales of milk & cream increasing by 61%, salmon by 23% and pork by 14%.
Quotas allowing imports of cheap New Zealand lamb and other goods will be shared out between Britain and the European Union after Brexit under a deal signed by both sides.
Restrictions on how many products can be imported into the EU on favourable rates are set across the bloc and concerns have been raised internationally that exporters could take a financial hit when the UK quits.
However, the British government has agreed with Brussels to divvy up the numbers of goods that can be brought in on low or zero tariffs based roughly on current rates.
It would mean products like lamb, which are imported into the UK in higher numbers than other parts of the bloc, would continue to be traded in similar numbers.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the deal showed "real progress" and was part of the government's plans to minimise disruption to global trade.
The agreement has been set out in a letter from the UK and the EU to the World Trade Organisation, which regulates international trading arrangements.
No decision has been made on how long the tariff rate quotas, which have to be renewed regularly with the WTO, would be maintained in the long-term.
A former New Zealand trade negotiator has been appointed the Government's key adviser for securing trade deals with countries outside the European Union.
Crawford Falconer, who has previously described Brexit as a "enormous opportunity", will work with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox to draw up deals ready to go as the UK leaves the EU.
A former vice minister for international trade and foreign affairs and ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, the academic is currently a trade professor at Lincoln University.
It comes as Mr Fox prepares to visit Washington on Monday for talks about future trade links between the UK and the US after Brexit.
He said: "Britain is a great global trading nation and, as we leave the EU, we will embrace the world and seek to build an outward-looking Britain that is confident on the world stage.
"We're attracting the very best global talent to the Department for International Trade and as an international economic department Crawford brings extensive experience of trade negotiation and foreign affairs and will play a key leadership role, with ministers and the first permanent secretary as we further build our trade capability."
The government has faced criticism that it does not have the skills and manpower needed to carry out complex deals for the country's future after Brexit.
In his role as chief trade negotiation adviser and second permanent secretary at the Department for International Trade (DIT), Mr Falconer will be responsible for boosting the negotiating skills in the team as well as developing free trade agreements and market access deals outside the EU.
Officials said more than 3,000 people now work for the department.
Speaking earlier this year at the Legatum Institute think tank, Mr Falconer said Brexit was a "potential game changer" and countries like Australia, New Zealand and Mexico would want to work with the UK.
"It's a bit like somebody who has woken up after a long sleep. They don't quite realise that they are the sleeping giant," he said.
"I think there is a dawning realisation that there's a huge strategic opportunity."
Speaking about his appointment, Mr Falconer, who holds dual New Zealand/ British nationality, said: "As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it will be top of the Government's agenda to turn the enormous new opportunities opening up for the UK into win-win agreements with our trading partners around the globe.
"That will bring tangible new gains to us at home, and it will bring gains to those trading partners that join us.
"As the world's fifth largest economic power, the UK will bring much needed leadership to the international trade agenda. I am absolutely delighted to join this hugely exciting new journey."
The strategic view that Britain needs to be in the EU remains universal among New Zealand strategists. However the Leaves did not vote geopolitically but on domestic considerations including, apparently, resentment of immigration and of the unequal gains from trade. New Zealand has little alternative but to accept the direction the Brits are taking, albeit with regret.
Withdrawing from the EU is proving more difficult than anyone anticipated. Almost every week there is a revelation of an additional complication. Two years to negotiate the deal is just absurd, indicative of how little David Cameron, the previous British prime minister, had thought things through.
I do not think any informed person – anywhere in the world – takes seriously Theresa May’s view that Brexit represents no retreat, but rather that it will be the making of a ‘truly global Britain’ and that as a result the country will be ‘more outward-looking than ever before.’ The hard fact is that, as every New Zealander working in the international sector knows, being a small country isolated from the big trading blocs is a huge challenge. Sure, Britain is bigger than New Zealand but small compared to China, the EU and the US.
New Zealand’s interests will be challenged by Brexit. A couple of examples. We are currently in early negotiations with the EU over a free trade agreement. Almost certainly they will be delayed because the EU will be focusing on the Brexit negotiations; in any case they were going to be tortuous because they involve every member of the EU agreeing to the deal which, if it is of any significance to us, is going to affect their key farm interests.
Second, because of Brentry and subsequent multilateral negotiations, such as the Tokyo and Uruguay rounds, we already have various trade deals with the EU. However they are not with its individual members. What happens to them when one leaves?
For instance, there is a New Zealand sheep meats quota for the whole 28 countries; about two fifths of our lamb goes to Britain. That quota is ‘bound’, in effect it has a standing in international law and cannot be unilaterally abrogated. What happens to it if Britain leaves? We could insist that we will continue to have access for the whole quota to the remaining 27 countries and then negotiate a separate one with Britain outside the EU in exchange for trade concessions here. I imagine the EU will want us to agree that the quota be divided between the EU27 and Britain. The permutations are enormous; it will be a miracle if they are settled within two years, given there are many other examples like this involving other commodities and other countries.
So tiny New Zealand will be directly involved in some aspects of the Brexit negotiations even if we find it hard to get the EU 27 to focus on an FTA. Meanwhile, according to EU rules, Britain cannot begin negotiating trade agreements on its own behalf until after it leaves the EU.
During the Brentry negotiations, half a century ago, New Zealand’s negotiating strength included some ‘moral’ weight. At that time more people living in New Zealand said they were British-born than said they were Maori, underlining emotional attachments between the two countries. But those attachments have become attenuated with the external and internal diversification.
I won’t say we had a veto on Brentry in 1973, but undoubtedly the British government of the day wanted our support because it feared the anti-Brentry forces would use New Zealand to intensify their campaign.
That won’t happen this time. Instead of moral considerations we are going to have to depend upon the WTO rules. In principle that should mean that we will be no worse off – except where we have better deals than the legal bindings. And undoubtedly, we will suffer if the British economy suffers, as it is expected to. (However, except for some products, ties of sentiment mean New Zealanders tend to overestimate the importance of the British economy to us today.)
Moreover with a few exceptions, such as the RCEP (the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership of 14 Asian nations and Australia and New Zealand), other international trade deals are going to go be put on hold. That particularly affects our campaign to reduce world food protectionism in the interest of consumers and efficient farmers.
Of course, Brexit may not go ahead. A possible scenario is that when the deal is agreed, Britain will have a second referendum offering a real choice between the specific Brexit terms and Remain. May’s ‘hard-Brexit’ is designed to meet the demands of the extreme Brexiters, especially over migration, but it sacrifices a lot to do that. The softer Brexiters may reject the hard-Brexit terms. Already there is a growing group of doubters – Bregretters.
Although there are hard liners among the other 27 EU, who will not offer Britain an easy deal, one hopes commonsense will mean the 27 will leave open the option of Britain abandoning Brexit when the terms are settled and it becomes evident (to just about everyone) how painful the exit option is.
What may be crucial may be this year’s elections in France and the Netherlands, where immigration issues are expected to play an important role. Supposing that the electoral outcomes do not totally disrupt EU unity, it seems likely, nonetheless, that the EU will soften its commitment to free movement of labour. That would make it easier for Bregretters to change their minds.
Whatever, New Zealand’s global trading ambitions – especially over better access for its farmer products to protected markets – are going to have to be put on hold. But we will still pursue quality trade deals whenever the opportunities arise even if there are less of them.
| By Brian Easton published on pundit | March 6, 2017 ||