• Jim Fanshawe

Transitioning to trade outside of the EU

Updated: Jan 30

As MEPs set to ratify the #Withdrawal_Agreement today, 29th January 2020, the UK will now leave the EU as from 11pm on the 31st January 2020. We have been helping businesses prepare for #Brexit over the last two years or so and now this is as important as ever.


So what do we know now and what should business do?

Well, with the Withdrawal Agreement now ratified it means that the Transition Period will come into force. From a practical business point of view this means that business will be able to continue to trade very much in the same way they do now. So for trade purposes with the EU throughout the duration of the Transition Period:

  • The UK remains in the Single Market and Customs Union, so no logistics, documentation or customs changes

  • Employees can continue to work and travel throughout the EU as they do now

  • Driving licenses and European Health Insurance cards remain valid

  • Under the Withdrawal Agreement the UK is obliged to abide by Trade Agreements the EU has with other countries. So no change on imports from these countries.

  • The countries that the EU has free trade agreements (FTA) with are under no-obligation to treat imports from the UK by the terms of the FTA. The UK has been trying to secure roll over deals with these countries. There are some who have yet to declare whether they will roll over the EU's FTA terms to imports from the UK during the transition period.

  • The transition period lasts until 31st December 2020. Boris Johnson has said that he has no intention of requesting an extension to the transition period. If he has not requested one by the end of June 2020 then the transition period expires at the end of 2020. At this point if no Trade Agreement has been reached then the UK fully leaves the EU in a no-deal scenario.

Recommended Actions

  • Keep communication regular with Suppliers, Customers, Overseas business partners and Employees throughout the transition period

  • Check which of the EU's FTAs your business is currently benefitting from and whether these will be rolled over.

  • Keep updated on the status of negotiations between the UK and EU, particularly around product regulation alignment for your sector.

  • Keep your no-deal scenario planning up to date.

  • Even with a trade agreement in place there will be more administrative demands on your trade so review your capabilities and get training or additional support / staff in place

Since the publication of this blog post yesterday the government have published an update on the arrangements with third party countries during the transition period. This does not give complete clarification on whether all the countries the EU has trade agreements with will treat imports from the UK under the current terms of these agreements. It states that the EU is notifying all third party countries that the UK can be treated as a member of the EU during the transition period for the purposes of trade agreements. However the 3rd party countries are under no obligation to honour this.

Here is the link to the government update - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/international-agreements-with-third-countries-during-the-transition-period/international-agreements-with-third-countries-during-the-transition-period

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