Europhiles in the UK continue to claim that Brexit will mean the loss of 100 trade deals which the EU has negotiated with other countries. This report provides readers with solid evidence to refute these claims completely.
On 23 July 2020, the EU Parliament updated its pages about the EU’s trade agreements. Here is what they said.
Source: EU Parliament, updated by them on 23 July 2020, accessed on Sat 08 Aug 2020.
So, the EU Parliament says that “The EU currently has about 100 trade agreements in place or in the process of being updated or negotiated.”
Readers will note that the claimed “100 trade agreements” bizarrely includes those agreements which are still being negotiated. Using the same basis, the UK’s Department for International Trade could make the same claim. I hope they do not because it would be equally misleading for the public.
Readers who scroll down the EU Parliament’s page will find that even the Parliament has to admit that only 38 agreements are “in place”.
So how many free trade agreements does the EU actually have in force?
According to the Trade Directorate of the EU Commission, only 11 out of the claimed 100 trade agreements are actually in force.
Switzerland — Agreement
Faroe Islands — Agreement
Turkey — Customs union
Iceland — Economic Area Agreement
Norway — Economic Area Agreement
Liechtenstein — Economic Area Agreement
South Korea — Free Trade Agreement
Singapore — Free Trade Agreement
Vietnam — Free Trade Agreement
Mexico — Global Agreement
Japan — Global agreement
I have excluded “Association”, “Partnership and Cooperation”, and “Stabilisation and Association” Agreements as these are not real trade agreements. I have also excluded Andorra and San Marino as they are both effectively part of the EU. (The French President, Emmanuel Macron, is even the “Co-Prince of Andorra”.) It is possible to make a similar argument about the Faroe Islands in relation to Denmark, but I let that one stand.
There are of course trade deals that are not yet in force, but is America, China, or India on the list? No.
The pro-EU lobby will naturally take issue with the above. The problem they have is the EU’s own declarations and descriptions of its agreements. The EU may wish to headline “100 trade agreements”, but what the British people and British businesses care about is what affects them.
I have taken a fairly firm view on what constitutes a “trade deal in force”, but I have used the EU Trade Directorates’s own data. I have also used their list for “trade deals in force”. The only removals are for what most reasonable people would consider being double-counting (eg Andorra) and agreements which aren’t really trade deals at all.
[ Sources: EU Parliament | EU Commission Trade Directorate ]