First post-Brexit trade deal with EU nation announced as UK-Italy form export agreement

Thu 9 Feb 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

UK and Italian flags

The UK and Italy have signed an export and investment partnership, the first trade agreement with an EU member since the UK left the bloc.

Business and trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, and Italy’s foreign affairs minister, Antonio Tajani, signed the UK-Italy Export and Investment Promotion Dialogue in Rome yesterday (9 February).

The government stated that the deal will boost UK exports, grow the economy and strengthen exports in high-performing and growth sectors, such as life sciences and digital and tech.

Another aim of the agreement is to promote inward investment in low-carbon industries including offshore wind and carbon capture storage.

Milestone deal

The deal makes no change to the UK and Italy’s key trading regulations, such as tariffs, quotas and customs rules.

Badenoch said the partnership was a significant milestone in the UK’s trading relationship with Europe and that an independent UK could strike “ambitious trade deals”.

“This partnership will boost trade and investment between British and Italian businesses, ease the path for valuable investment, and will crucially grow UK exports as we aim for our target of selling £1tn of goods and services a year to the world by the end of the decade.”

Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), welcomed the news:

"We’re glad to see that the UK has signed its first partnership agreement with an EU partner nation post-Brexit.

“Italy is a key market for UK businesses. This deal could provide new opportunities to many firms looking to sell their goods abroad and expand their horizons. It’s also encouraging to see the UK build its trade agreement programme with EU nations.

“I have had positive discussions with Italian officials on ways in which IOE&IT can help increase trade flows between our nations. I look forward to continuing these discussions with the Italian Ambassador, His Excellency Inigo Lambertini.”

Trade between the UK and Italy is worth more than £43bn, making it the UK’s 11th largest trading partner.

The most popular UK exports to Italy include cars – worth £932.5m and equivalent to 10.1% of all the country’s goods exported to Italy – and £507.7m worth of mechanical power generators.

Longer term project

The minister used her first broadcast interview since the mini-reshuffle to say that fixating on the short-term damage caused by Brexit is a “fake conversation” and that it will “take time” for the UK’s new economic arrangements to become clear.

The Department for International Trade was folded into the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to create the new Department for Business and Trade.

Badenoch told Sky News: “What I find frustrating is that we spend loads of time trying to re-litigate Brexit rather than focusing on solving new issues.”

Mexico negotiations

Badenoch has also headed off to Mexico to progress two post-Brexit deals, a statement said.

On a two-day visit to Mexico City, she will hold talks with her cabinet counterparts to discuss the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and a new bilateral UK-Mexico deal.

The UK is renegotiating its agreement with Mexico – first agreed 20 years ago – to ensure it reflects UK strengths in areas like services and tech.

The North American state is a member of the CPTPP, which recently welcomed Malaysia and Chile into its ranks.

Trade minister Greg Hands visited the Asia-Pacific last week to conduct talks focusing on the benefits of UK joining CPTPP and expressed a desire to finalise accession at the earliest opportunity.