UK Trade Deals On Leaving The EU

Graham Charles Lear
17 min readApr 16, 2021

Much is being made of the trade deals that we are now negotiating now we the UK have left the EU.

Remainer or Rejoiners as they now like to call themselves snidely and with a sniff point out that they are actually trading deals that the EU made with the countries involved and all the UK has done is change the EU to the UK.

Before we left the EU one of the EU rules was that countries in the EU could not go off and do trade deals with countries on their own. Putting it simply that was the job of the EU to negotiate a trade deal. However, there is a slight problem with the EU doing that.

The problem is this.

While a trade deal negotiated with Mexico might meet the needs of let’s say Germany it’ might not suit Italy to have that deal or the other way around. A trade deal with Malaya might suit the UK it might not suit France and so on and so on, yet every country is stuck with them. It’s the reason a trade with the EU takes so long, they usually take at least twelve years sometimes longer and then they are not ratified. As an example, the EU and Canada began proper talks on trade in 2008. It then took ten years to complete, however, before that both were in talks for twenty years. As of today the deal still has not been ratified because Canada is seeing a problem and want to change a few things that the EU do not want to change. Usually, if two countries are negotiating a trade deal it takes around just 28 months from start to finish as all they have to do is please each other not 27 others all with different needs.

So with this in mind what are these trade deals the UK are now doing now we have left the EU? Let’s take a look.

Trade negotiations the UK is prioritising

The UK has left the EU. We are now able to negotiate, sign and ratify new trade agreements.

The UK’s priority is to launch negotiations with the US, Australia and New Zealand.

The UK has already signed a free trade agreement with Japan and we will take a look at that one in a moment.

UK trade agreements with non-EU countries

Trade agreements that took effect from 1 January 2021

Agreements with the following countries and trading blocs took effect from 1 January 2021. Where the agreement has not yet been ratified, provisional application or bridging mechanisms have been put in place to ensure continuity of trade.

The countries that will be covered by the UK-Andean countries trade agreement are:

  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru

What the agreement includes

This trade agreement includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods (including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff-rate quotas, rules of origin and sanitary and phytosanitary measures)
  • trade in services
  • intellectual property (including geographical indications)
  • government procurement

It replicates wider elements of the EU-Andean agreement, such as provisions on political dialogue and other forms of cooperation, including on human rights.

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and the Andean countries continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may in fact be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

Tariff rate quotas

Tariff rate quotas in the agreement have been tailored specifically to the UK. See what I now mean when I said EU deals might not suit countries?

Trade with Cameroon

The UK has secured an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Cameroon.

Whilst the EPA has yet to come into effect, the UK and Cameroon have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This has ensured continuity of trading arrangements and maintains the effects of the EU-Central Africa EPA until the UK-Cameroon EPA can enter into effect.

What the MoU covers

The UK commits to providing immediate duty-free, quota-free access to goods exported from Cameroon.

In exchange, Cameroon commits to the gradual tariff liberalisation of goods. Some domestically sensitive products in Cameroon are excluded from tariff liberalisation.

Tariff rates on goods

Preferential tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and Cameroon continue to apply. Commitments on tariffs for both the UK and Cameroon have been replicated from the EU-Central Africa EPA without changes.

CARIFORUM-UK economic partnership agreement

The countries that will be covered by the CARIFORUM-UK EPA are:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • The Commonwealth of the Bahamas
  • The Commonwealth of Dominica
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Grenada
  • The Republic of Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Saint Christopher and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

The Republic of Suriname has approved in principle.

The following CARIFORUM States will be covered by the EPA if they sign it and bring it into effect:

  • The Republic of Suriname
  • The Republic of Haiti

Trade with Haiti takes place under the UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences. All goods imported from Haiti are eligible for quota-free access and nil rates of import duty. This does not apply to arms and ammunition.

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are principally development-focused trade agreements that aim to promote increased trade and investment. They contribute to sustainable growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

What the agreement includes

The UK commits to providing immediate duty-free, quota-free access to goods exported from the CARIFORUM States.

In exchange, the CARIFORUM States commit to gradual tariff liberalisation of goods. Some domestically sensitive products in the CARIFORUM States are excluded from tariff liberalisation.

This EPA includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods — including provisions on preferential tariffs and rules of origin
  • trade in services
  • intellectual-property
  • government procurement

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and the CARIFORUM States continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may in fact be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

UK-Central America association agreement

The Central American countries covered by this agreement are:

  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama

What the agreement includes

This association agreement includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods — including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff-rate quotas, rules of origin and sanitary and phytosanitary measures
  • trade in services
  • intellectual property, including geographical indications
  • government procurement

It replicates wider elements of the EU-Central America agreement such as provisions on political dialogue and other forms of cooperation, including human rights.

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and the Central American countries continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may, in fact, be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

Tariff rate quotas

Tariff rate quotas in the agreement have been tailored specifically to the UK., not to EU countries.

UK-Chile association agreement

The UK has signed an association agreement with Chile, which is in effect.

Between 1 January and 12 January 2021, preferences were applied retrospectively for goods imported to Chile from the UK. This means goods entering Chile from the UK were initially subject to MFN tariffs for a short period. However, businesses can claim back any additional tariffs paid in this temporary period from the Government of Chile. From 12 January 2021, preferential tariff rates on UK exports to Chile, are being applied as set out in the agreement.

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and Chile continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may, in fact, be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

From 12 January 2021, preferential tariff rates on UK exports to Chile, as set out in the agreement, are being applied. For goods imported to Chile from the UK between 1 January and 12 January 2021, preferences are being applied retrospectively. Businesses can claim back any additional tariffs paid since 1 January 2021 from the Government of Chile.

Tariff rate quotas

Tariff rate quotas in the agreement have been tailored specifically to the UK.

UK-Côte d’Ivoire Stepping Stone Economic Partnership Agreement

The UK has signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Côte d’Ivoire, which is in effect.

EPAs are principally development-focused trade agreements that aim to promote increased trade and investment. They contribute to sustainable growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

What the agreement includes

The UK commits to providing immediate duty-free, quota-free access to goods exported from Côte d’Ivoire.

In exchange, Côte d’Ivoire commits to gradual tariff liberalisation of goods. Some domestically sensitive products in Côte d’Ivoire are excluded from tariff liberalisation.

This EPA includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods — including provisions on preferential tariffs, rules of origin and sanitary and phytosanitary measures

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and Côte d’Ivoire continue to apply as set out in the agreement.

ESA-UK economic partnership agreement (EPA)

An economic partnership agreement (EPA) is a type of free trade agreement for relationships with developing countries.

The states covered by the ESA-UK EPA are:

  • Mauritius
  • Seychelles
  • Zimbabwe

The following ESA states will be covered by the EPA if they sign it and bring it into effect:

  • Madagascar
  • Comoros
  • Zambia

What the agreement includes

The UK commits to providing immediate duty-free, quota-free access to goods exported from the ESA states.

In exchange, the ESA states commit to gradual tariff liberalisation of goods. Some domestically sensitive products in the ESA states are excluded from tariff liberalisation.

This EPA includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods — including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff-rate quotas and rules of origin
  • trade in services
  • government procurement

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and the ESA states continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may in fact be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

UK-Faroe Islands free trade agreement (FTA)

UK-Faroe Islands trade agreement

The UK has signed a trade agreement with Denmark in respect of the Faroe Islands (the UK-Faroe Islands trade agreement), which is in effect.

This trade agreement includes provisions on trade in goods (including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff-rate quotas and rules of origin).

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and the Faroe Islands continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may, in fact, be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

Agreement on trade in goods between Iceland, Norway and the UK

What the agreement includes

This agreement includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods — including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff-rate quotas, rules of origin and customs and trade facilitation
  • geographical indications with Iceland

Tariffs on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and Iceland and Norway continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may in fact be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

Tariff rate quotas

The tariff rate quotas for agriculture and fisheries products in the agreement have been tailored specifically to reflect the UK’s actual trade with Iceland and Norway. Some of the tariff rate quotas are seasonal — the duty and volume available will depend on the month of export and import between the UK and Norway and the UK and Iceland.

UK-Israel trade and partnership agreement

What the agreement includes

This trade and partnership agreement includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods — including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff-rate quotas and rules of origin
  • intellectual-property
  • government procurement

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and Israel continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may, in fact, be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

Tariffs rate quotas

Tariff rate quotas in the agreement have been tailored specifically to the UK.

We have similar trade deals with

Kenya

Kosovo

Lebanon

Liechtenstein

Moldova

Morocco

North Macedonia

Fiji

Papua New Guinea

Samoa

Solomon Islands

Palestinian Authority

Singapore

South Korea

Botswana

Eswatini

Lesotho

Mozambique

Namibia

South Africa

Switzerland

Tunisia

Turkey

Ukraine

Vietnam

Japan

The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

The UK signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan on 23 October 2020. This Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) maintains the benefits of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with enhancements in areas of mutual interest.

Tariff rates on goods

Commitments on tariffs for the vast majority of products traded between the UK and Japan have been transitioned in CEPA without changes.

In some cases, the tariff rates may be lower than the EU-Japan EPA. 21 industrial goods have their duties eliminated in the CEPA tariff schedule. Tariffs on 2 tariff lines covering electrical control units often used in cars are also eliminated.

In Japan’s tariff schedule, 9 tariff lines covering certain leathers and hides will become duty-free in 2026. One tariff line covering industrial ethanol has had duties eliminated.

Tariff rate quotas

Access to products covered by tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) differ in the CEPA compared to the EU-Japan EPA.

Under the CEPA, the UK will continue to have access to the same preferential tariff rate as in the EU-Japan EPA for 10 TRQs:

  • TRQ 1: wheat products
  • TRQ 2: mixes and doughs and cake mixes
  • TRQ 3: food preparations made primarily of wheat
  • TRQ 8: food preparations of barley
  • TRQ 11: coffee, tea mixes, food preparations and doughs
  • TRQ 12: food preparations
  • TRQ 15: food preparations containing more than 50% of sucrose, and cocoa powder
  • TRQ 19: food Preparations containing cocoa
  • TRQ 20: food Preparations containing cocoa (for the preparation of chocolate)
  • TRQ 25: cheeses

Malt

For malt, the UK will continue to have duty-free access to Japan’s market for malt via the existing Global TRQ.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/933984/uk-japan-cepa-agri-foods-explainer.pdf

Before Permit (BP) scheme

The CEPA arrangement uses Japan’s BP scheme.

This scheme temporarily suspends the need to pay tariffs at the border. The importer must provide a guarantee to the customs authority. One way of doing this is via a Banker’s Guarantee. This means that at the point of import, Japanese importers only need to register the import under the BP scheme.

Rules of origin

Claiming preferential rates for your exports from the UK

The requirements for claiming preference remain largely unchanged. A claim should be based on a statement of origin by the exporter that the product is originating or the importer’s knowledge that the product is originating.

Small consignments and waivers

Goods do not require a statement of origin if they are:

  • entering Japan from the UK and below 200,000 yen in value
  • entering the UK from Japan and below £1,000 in value

Using EU materials and processing in your exports to Japan

For exports of products that currently rely on EU inputs to access preferential tariffs, you can continue to use EU materials or processing in your exports to Japan. The working or processing you do in the UK must go beyond the minimal operations listed in the trade agreement. The other relevant conditions must also be fulfilled.

Changes to product-specific rules for exports to Japan

Find out about the changes to product-specific rules.

Sending your goods to Japan through the EU and other countries

Goods transited through third countries (including the EU) still benefit from preferential treatment.

For example, you can split a consignment in the EU when exporting goods to Japan. The goods comprising the consignment must not have cleared customs in the EU.

Transit through any other country is possible provided your goods remain under customs surveillance and do not undergo operations other than:

  • unloading
  • reloading
  • any operation designed to preserve them in good condition

You can find the provisions on rules of origin in Chapter 3 and Annexes (3-A to 3-E) of the CEPA.

Product testing, standards and regulations

Commitments related to standards, regulations and conformity assessment remain largely the same as under the EU-Japan agreement.

The CEPA includes annexes covering a range of sectors:

  • motor vehicles and parts in annex 2-C
  • facilitation of shochu export in annex 2-D
  • facilitation of wine export in annex 2-E

Mutual Recognition Protocol

The CEPA replicates the effect of the EU-Japan Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for Conformity Assessment, through a new Protocol on Mutual Recognition (MRA Protocol).

The MRA Protocol provides measures to simplify the process of demonstrating compliance with safety and other regulatory standards. For example, the MRA Protocol’s good manufacturing practice for medicinal products annex requires the UK and Japan to recognise each other’s inspection and audit systems. It also requires the UK and Japan to waive batch testing of products on import into their territories.

The MRA Protocol covers:

  • electrical products
  • good laboratory practice for chemicals
  • good manufacturing practice for medicinal products (human) telecommunications and radio equipment

For more information related to standards, regulations and conformity assessment, see Chapter 7 and the MRA Protocol of the CEPA.

Food safety and animal welfare

Commitments related to sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) and animal welfare remain largely the same as under the EU Japan Agreement. Nothing in the UK-Japan CEPA prevents the UK from continuing to uphold its high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards.

You can find the provisions on SPS in Chapter 6 of the CEPA. For the provisions on animal welfare, see Chapter 18 Section B of the CEPA.

Trade-in services

The CEPA replicates commitments for preferential guaranteed market access and fair treatment for services suppliers and investors from the EU-Japan EPA. UK businesses should consult the relevant CEPA Annexes (8-B-I and 8-B-II) for the level of guaranteed fair treatment and market access for their sector.

If you’re a UK business providing services in Japan, you’ll need to follow Japanese regulations, including on:

  • getting an authorisation or licence to provide a service
  • complying with local business regulations
  • Japanese nationality requirements could prevent you from providing services in some sectors

Consider appointing an English-speaking lawyer in Japan to help you comply with specific regulations. You can also contact your local chamber of commerce for advice.

The Government of Japan provides advice on setting up a business and investing in Japan.

You can find the provisions on trade in services in Chapter 8 and Annexes (8-B-I and 8-B-II) of the CEPA.

Business mobility

The CEPA takes all the commitments on business mobility from the EU-Japan EPA and builds on them to provide additional opportunities for the UK and Japanese suppliers in the following areas.

The CEPA provides for the availability of visas for highly skilled professionals to work in Japan. An employee transferring from their UK HQ to the Tokyo office will be able to bring their spouse and dependents and stay for up to five years. The Government of Japan has information on applying for Japanese visas.

The UK definition of investor now focuses on investment in UK industry and jobs, rather than the amount of capital. Japan has expanded the scope of their intra-corporate transferee category.

The UK has also provided certainty that partners and dependent children of intra-corporate transferees can accompany them to the UK. Both the UK and Japan have committed to ensuring that the process for applying for visas will be clear, transparent, and with an aim that they be processed in 90 days.

You can find the provisions on business mobility in Chapter 8 and Annexes (8-B-III, 8-B-IV and 8-C) of the CEPA.

Digital

The CEPA contains measures aimed at supporting e-commerce between the UK and Japan.

The measures within this section are aimed at:

  • prohibiting the application of customs duties to electronic transmissions and their contents
  • preventing the forced transfer of source code as a condition of market access
  • administering measures of general application affecting electronic commerce, such as the collection of information, in a reasonable, objective, and impartial manner
  • making an effort to avoid requirements (for example a permit, licence, or approval) that need to be obtained prior to an economic activity being allowed to start where such activity is done via electronic means
  • protecting the legal effect, validity, and enforceability of an electronic contract
  • protecting the legal effect or validity of an electronic signature (or the authenticating data resulting from electronic authentication) against discrimination resulting solely from its electronic form
  • facilitating parties to a particular electronic transaction to mutually determine the appropriate electronic authentication methods or electronic signature for their transaction
  • facilitating the use of electronic authentication or an electronic signature in electronic transactions in compliance with the applicable legal requirements
  • encouraging the use of interoperable electronic authentication and electronic signatures
  • facilitating access to and use of services and applications of a consumer’s choice
  • connecting the devices of a consumer’s choice to the internet
  • accessing the information on the network management practices of a consumer’s internet access service supplier
  • protecting consumers online by prohibiting fraudulent and deceptive commercial activities online
  • protecting online consumers’ personal information
  • protecting users from unsolicited commercial electronic messages (spam)
  • encouraging the release of anonymised government datasets where appropriate with a view to enhancing and generating business opportunities, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • cooperation on a broad range of e-commerce areas such as emerging technology (including artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things)
  • banning unjustified impediments to the free flow of data between the UK and Japan whilst maintaining the highest data protection standards
  • upholding the UK’s robust data protection laws for individuals’ personal data when data is being transferred across borders
  • prohibiting unjustified data localisation requirements
  • preventing unnecessary requirements for encryption service providers to transfer details about their software, or other proprietary information, to state authorities as a condition of entering the commercial market

The government has published a summary of the CEPA provisions related to digital and data. Find out more about how your data is protected under the CEPA.

You can find the provisions on digital in section F of Chapter 8 of the CEPA.

Financial services

The CEPA maintains the level of market access granted to financial services suppliers under the EU-Japan EPA.

The CEPA also provides additional enhancements to strengthen commitments on:

  • cross-border financial data flows to prohibit financial data localisation
  • the ability to supply new financial services and on regulatory transparency for authorisation processes

The ability to supply financial services in the Japanese market will continue to be governed by Japan’s financial regulatory authorities.

The CEPA also creates an annual dialogue between Her Majesty’s Treasury, UK financial regulators, and the Japanese FSA that will explore ways to further reduce regulatory friction.

You can find the provisions on financial services in Chapter 8 and Annex 8-A of the CEPA.

Geographical indications

Geographical indications (GIs) protect the geographical names of food, drink and agricultural products.

UK GIs

The following UK GIs include ‘cross-border GIs’ that relate to the territory of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

These GIs are listed for protection in the CEPA:

  • Blue Stilton cheese
  • White Stilton cheese
  • West Country farmhouse Cheddar cheese
  • Scottish farmed salmon
  • Irish whisky/Irish whiskey/Uisce Beatha Eireannach
  • Irish cream
  • Scotch whisky

You can find the provisions on GIs in Chapter 14 and Annexes (14-A and 14-B) of the CEPA.

Government procurement

Commitments made on government procurement between the UK and Japan have been transitioned in the CEPA without changes.

This means that the CEPA retains guarantees on non-discriminatory access to the Japanese government procurement market. This includes additional market access beyond Japan’s offer under the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).

When Remainers Rejoiners quote that the Japan deal is the same as the EU one you can now show and quote this to show them that it's not

In the Japanese market, UK businesses now benefit from:

  • access to regional level procurement opportunities, including procurement by Core Cities
  • access to contracts across a wide range of services including business services, insurance, telecoms, translation, photography, specialist design, food and beverage serving services
  • improved standards for the publication of procurement opportunities across all levels of government
  • a commitment to publish procurement notices for Japanese procurement covered by this agreement on the Japanese Government Procurement e-portal
  • a commitment that the ‘Keishin’ business evaluation procedure will not be used in a manner that discriminates against UK businesses

You can find all additional procurement coverage that goes further than the GPA schedules in Annex 10 of the CEPA.

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.