On December 24th 2020, Britain and the European Union (EU) finally struck a hard-fought trade agreement, officially ending the 47-year ties between London and Brussels.
The UK & The EU
Since the EU ‘was’ the largest trading partner of UK, it meant that a new relationship between the two had to be re-shaped.
If no deal had been agreed, a huge amount of goods would suddenly have become more expensive.
However, something has indeed changed.
Since the UK will no longer follow EU’ rules on product standards, it means that some UK products, such as animal food, can no longer enter the EU unless it is frozen to -18C.
Some business will directly lose their automatic right of access to EU markets, such as banking, architecture and accounting.
Also, professional qualifications for doctors, chefs and architects will no longer be automatically recognized.
Regaining control over UK waters was a key part of the Leave Campaign in 2016 – and according the latest deal, UK would have the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026, but the EU will also have the right to respond with taxes on exports of British fish or deny UK boats access to EU waters.
The UK And The World
The British government said in December 2019, that it had managed to cover 80% of its external trade with free trade agreements by 2022.
In October 2020, the UK then officially signed an economic partnership with Japan, which includes a strong commitment from Japan to support the UK in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), strengthening trade ties between the UK and other Pacific Rim countries.
Before Brexit, the UK was “automatically” part of any trade deal that the EU reached with other countries; however, when Brexit came into force on January 1st, the UK needed to re-sign trade deals with individual countries – and to date 60+ out of more than 70 countries have already signed off on their deals with the UK.
The Future – Post-Brexit?
There will be some new customs checks after Brexit, but the British government might hope to negotiate with the EU to exempt this regulation related to some industries, such as automobile manufacturing, since Nissan had said that any delay in overseas shipping of parts could slow production and insisted there must be agreement on a free-trade deal to remain in the UK.
Even though the the core ideal of the Brexit movement was taking back sovereignty allowing London to determine all rules on safety, the environment, health, workers’ rights and subsidies to British companies independently, it is highly possible that the Brussels effect(*) will still bring UK laws into line with EU laws since the EU internal market is the biggest in the world.
- Brussels effect: the process of unilateral regulatory globalization caused by the European Union de facto (but not necessarily de jure) externalizing its laws outside its borders through market mechanisms.