Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 March 2020

UK set to demand comprehensive trade deal from EU

PM will say he wants a comprehensive trade deal at least as good as Canada’s agreement

Boris Johnson is set to say he is prepared to end talks with the European Union over the UK’s future trade relationship with the bloc if he does not get his way.

In his first speech since Britain formally left the EU, the prime minister will spell out to business leaders and diplomats on Monday his aims for negotiating the future trade terms with the bloc.

Brussels negotiators are set to publish their own mandate the same day.

Mr Johnson will say he wants a comprehensive trade deal at least as good as Canada’s agreement, but will be ready to take a looser arrangement like Australia’s if talks fail, according to a UK official.

The prime minister will again spell out that in brokering a Canada-style free trade accord, there will be no alignment with EU rules standards, European law courts will have no jurisdiction over the UK and he will make no concessions, the official said.

He will also make it clear that the National Health Service is not up for grabs in any trade talks.

Mr Johnson’s speech is set to fire the starting gun on what will be 11 months of hard bargaining.

After three years of talks on the UK’s political withdrawal, the early signs indicate that the parties will struggle to avoid a cliff-edge change in their trading arrangement come 2021.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said it will be “impossible” to sign off on a full deal before Johnson’s hard year-end deadline.

The EU and Canada negotiated for seven years before signing the trade deal, known as CETA, in October 2016. It took almost another year before its provisional application began.

The prospect of a Canada-style deal with the U.K. received a guarded welcome from Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who said Friday that it would have to be based on minimum common standards. The U.K. is geographically much closer than Canada and can’t be allowed to undermine the EU, he said in Dublin.

Also Friday, BMW AG served a reminder that Britain’s formal exit from the EU didn’t necessarily mean that “Brexit was done.” Citing uncertainties over Britain’s future trade relations, the German car company said it was putting work on the next version of a Mini model on hold. The Mini is currently built in England and the Netherlands.

Updated: February 2, 2020 12:37 PM

SHARE

SHARE

Most Popular