UK-EU deal 'Not fit for modern trade environment'

A report by David Henig for Best for Britain

David is Director of the UK Trade Policy Project at the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) think-tank, and one of the UK’s leading authorities on trade policy.

UK-EU deal ‘Not fit for modern trade environment’

  • New report highlights key weaknesses in Johnson deal
  • Ten areas identified as needing priority attention
  • Warning that rebuilding trade relations ‘Must start now’

A major new analysis of the EU-UK trade deal highlights ten areas that must be addressed urgently to deal with non-tariff trade barriers looming come January 1st.

The report, written by trade expert David Henig and commissioned by the pro-internationalism campaign Best for Britain, warns that, although the Johnson deal is better than a WTO arrangement, it will still result in ‘considerably higher barriers’ to trade.

Henig identifies areas of concern ranging from regulatory challenges and data issues to membership of the Erasmus scheme and climate change.

Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith said:

“This deal was negotiated at speed, and it shows. It is far from the comprehensive deal voters were promised – it is woefully thin on services that account for the lion’s share of our economic power, and it bares little resemblance to a modern trading agreement.
“But the foundations have been laid, and now the serious building work must begin. This report prioritises the next ten storeys that the UK and EU should layer on top of the deal, to protect our consumers, workers and businesses.

The ten priority recommendations are:

  1. Secure data adequacy and deepen provisions on digital trade
  2. Establish regulatory dialogues, starting with financial services, as part of financial services equivalence
  3. Develop new trade rules for modern challenges, such as climate change, animal welfare and antimicrobial resistance
  4. Maintain membership of European standardisation bodies
  5. Reach Mutual Recognition Agreements to address testing of industrial goods, and veterinary equivalence for food products
  6. Explore membership of major European regulatory bodies on issues such as aircraft safety (EASA)
  7. Expand cumulation of rules of origin for preferential tariffs either with Japan or PEM (Pan-Euro-Mediterranean) countries
  8. Reconsider UK participation in Erasmus
  9. Re-establish mutual recognition of professional qualifications
  10. Cooperate in renewing the global trade system

David Henig said:

“The new UK-EU agreement offers a framework with some essential elements such as the absence of tariffs, basic rules on business travel, and a structured dialogue. But it falls far short in supporting modern trade, in particular in tackling non-tariff barriers, and UK-based businesses need much more.

“A strong trade relationship requires more than a Free Trade Agreement, which is why countries that aspire to trade extensively – typically neighbours – build deep relationships.

“We will continue to be neighbours, and should seek to be good neighbours and heavy traders. Relations have taken a knock in the last four-and-a-half years, and it is time to start rebuilding them.”

Read the full report here.


What can you do now?

The UK Parliament is set to vote on the deal on 30th December. Make sure your MP sees this report and knows your views before they vote.

Send your message right now to your MP