Five important global trade stories to look out for in the early months of 2022

Tue 4 Jan 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News


Since the Brexit referendum in 2016, dull moments in international trade have been few and far between.

In recent years headlines have been dominated by the UK’s negotiations with the EU over a trade deal and the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Aside from Brexit, in recent years the impact of Covid-19 on supply chains, shipping and much more has been impossible to ignore.

2022 promises to be no different, as Britain introduces new rules for imports from the EU and continues to seek post-Brexit trade deals with countries around the world.

The IOE&IT Daily Update here looks at some of the stories that are likely to dominate UK trade in the coming months.

1: New rules for EU to GB imports

As of 1 January 2022, goods imported to GB from the EU are subject to new controls.

New rules include the requirement for declarations to be completed at the point of entry into Britain. Importers of agrifoods will also need to pre-notify authorities of their goods movements using the new Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS).

These are the latest rules to be introduced as part of the government’s phased approach to introducing post-Brexit controls on goods from the EU, as set out by the Border Operating Model paper.

Certification and physical checks for products of animal origin, animal by-products, plants and plant products are being introduced in phases from July 2022.

Arrangements for goods moving to or arriving from the EU into Northern Ireland continue as in 2021, under the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

Goods arriving from the Republic of Ireland into GB will also remain as they did in 2021 while negotiations over the future implementation of the Protocol continue.

2: Updated Harmonized System now in operation

The first update in five years to the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) Harmonized System came into effect on 1 January 2022.

The Harmonized System consists of six-digit identification codes (HS codes) for more than 5,000 commodity groups. These six-digit codes then comprise the first six numbers in the commodity codes set by national governments and trade blocs for imports and exports.

A total of 351 sets of amendments have been made across a wide range of goods, with the new codes being incorporated into the commodity codes set by countries including the UK and EU. The UK government has announced that its integrated 2022 tariff incorporates the changes.

Traders have been warned to ensure they are using up-to-date commodity codes and classifications to ensure they can continue completing customs processes compliantly.

An explanatory IOE&IT webinar on the subject can be viewed here.

3: World’s biggest trade pact comes into force

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade deal, that covers 30% of global GDP, came into effect on 1 January, reports Edge Markets.

The pact is designed to remove tariffs on 91% of goods, allowing the freer movement of goods within Asia and it is intended to make it a coherent trading zone like the EU or North America.

According to France 24, RCEP could boost trade within the region by 2% (approximately $42 billion).

The US is not part of the deal and India pulled out at the last minute, leaving China as the dominant player in the 15 country bloc, reports Aljazeera.

4: Will the UK, South Korea or China make progress in bids to join CPTPP?

The world’s other Asia-Pacific free trade group – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – will assess new member applications in 2022, with South Korea recently joining the UK and China as potential additions, according to the FT.

Ecuador has also filed an application in recent days, Nikkei Asia reports.

The UK was the first country outside of the founder nations to apply to join CPTPP and hopes that trade deals with member countries such as Australia and Japan will smooth its path to membership.

5: UK dangles migration carrot to pave way for India deal

UK international trade minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has predicted a “five-star year” for UK trade as she seeks to finalise a deal with New Zealand and ramps up talks with the Gulf states, Canada, and Mexico, the Express reports.

Trevelyan will also travel to India this month to begin trade talks, dangling the carrot of easier immigration for Indian citizens as a sweetener, according to the Guardian.

Visa fees could be reduced and a similar three-year visa scheme to that included in the Australian trade deal could be offered.

According to the Times, ministers believe a trade deal with Delhi would give British businesses a lead in one of the most lucrative markets in the world.

India is predicted to become the world’s third largest economy by 2050 but has historically adopted a protectionist approach to trade and does not have a bilateral trade deal with either the US or the EU.