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UK could suffer a 'loss of trade' with around 40 countries on Brexit day, admits Liam Fox’s chief civil servant

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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.

Agreements enjoyed because of EU membership may not be successfully rolled over, even if Theresa May strikes the two-year transition deal she is seeking, Antonia Romeo told MPs.

Asked if she feared Britain could suffer a “loss of trade” with those third countries, the permanent secretary of the Department for International Trade replied: “We are working to ensure that we are not in that position.”

Crawford Falconer, the Trade Secretary’s chief negotiation advisor, also admitted those countries are likely to seek more favourable terms, in return for extending the trade deals.

“It is a terrible disease....they are always trying to get something else extra out of you,” he said, appearing before the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

However, Mr Falconer said the UK had made clear to the countries concerned that it was determined the outcome would be “maintaining status quo”.

“We are not in the business of opening a new negotiation going forward or going back. None of them can be, or are, in any doubt that that is our intention,” he added.

The comments were seized on by Peter Kyle, a Labour MP and supporter of the pro-EU Open Britain group, as undermining Theresa May’s “tired slogan of Global Britain”.

“With not much more than a year to go until the UK is due to leave the EU, we still have absolutely no idea whether we’ll be able to keep the global trade deals that we currently enjoy as an EU member state,” Mr Kyle said.

“As the Government’s chief trade negotiator Crawford Falconer confirmed, even if countries do agree to continue the deals, many are likely to seek adjustments to the terms in their favour because they know a Brexit-weakened UK will have no leverage whatsoever.”

Continue here to read the full article  ||  March 08, 2018   |||