MPs assess post-Brexit trade options
A leading Parliamentary Committee has sought to shed light on the potential impact of four different scenarios on the UK’s post-Brexit international trade relationships.
Published by the House of Commons International Trade Committee, a new report considers not only the implications of each model for the UK’s future trading relationships, but also the relevant issues that the Government will need to resolve.
The scenarios considered are: the UK’s relationship with the World Trade Organization (WTO); the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that the Government intends to strike with the EU; the implications of the UK falling back on trading with the EU under WTO rules alone and the UK’s future trading relationship with non-EU countries.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Committee recommends that the Government should evaluate the implications of the UK’s rejoining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
Doing so would, MPs argue, offer an opportunity for a smoother transition as the UK leaves the EU.
The prospect of UK membership of EFTA from 2019 onwards could be to Britain’s advantage the report suggests, calling on the Secretary of State to publish a White Paper on EFTA membership before summer 2017, so that negotiations can commence before the end of the year.
“The Government is about to embark on a process that will transform our trading relationships in Europe and across the globe,” Committee Chairman Angus MacNeil said.
He added that the Government must not only set out its vision for UK trade after Brexit, but also provide reassurance that contingency plans will be in place in case an agreement with the EU is not reached.
MPs also want clarification about the extent to which the UK can start negotiating new FTAs before it leaves the EU. The report UK Trade Options Beyond 2019 can be found here.