IOE and IT chief welcomes UK-EU free trade deal but calls for more clarity on trade rules for services

Thu 24 Dec 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
IOE News

The Institute of Export & International Trade welcomed the announcement at 3pm GMT today (Thursday 24 December) of an historic free trade deal between the UK and the EU.

From Marco Forgione, director general, IOE&IT:

“With the transition period ending at 11pm on 31 December, it is important that businesses have clarity over the trade rules and regulations from 1 January 2021.

The deal valued at £668bn is the largest trade deal the EU has ever signed.

The EU is the UK’s largest trading partner. In 2019 the UK exported £294bn in goods and services and imported £373bn-worth of goods.

Services trade surplus

After today’s announcement, we are seeking clarity on trade in UK services which generate a surplus of £18bn to the UK economy from trade in the EU, compared with a deficit of £97bn from trade in goods.

We note the prime minister’s response to the question posed at today’s press conference, on whether the British service sector would be able to do more trade or less because of this deal.

Boris Johnson replied: “Yes of course [services] feature in this deal – including a good language of equivalence – perhaps not quite as much as we have liked …”

With this in mind, we are seeking more detail on services in this FTA.

Key areas

We will spend time now scrutinising the overall details of the deal and the implications on key areas including: 

  • rules of origin and implications for different industry sectors
  • division of any quotas
  • the level playing field, investment and regulatory standards
  • trade policy and trade remedies
  • dispute resolution
  • implications for trade in services including recognition of professional qualifications
  • any agreements on mutual recognition such as on data flows and possibly on REACH
  • treatment of intellectual property

Despite the sometimes difficult negotiations across four and a half years, both the EU and UK have shown a spirit of collaboration and cooperation to achieve this agreement. Over the coming months that spirit will be essential as the practical realities of the agreement become clear.

Speedy ratification

We encourage MPs in the UK and EU to ensure that the agreement is ratified as speedily as possible.

It is important that businesses recognise and prepare for the fact that whatever the terms of the FTA, all businesses exporting to the EU will have to adapt to new processes and procedures.

The IOE&IT has a suite of advice and guidance available through our training and education suite outlined on our website.

In the immediate future, we are hosting a free webinar on 5 January to help businesses understand the details of the FTA agreement. More details to come.”