As the political and trade world gears up for a busy 2023, many of the UK’s trade relationships are still up in the air.
Here, the IOE&IT Daily Update catches up on the latest in trade deals.
Kemi Badenoch had previously signalled her shift from speed to quality on trade agreements.
In a recent interview with the Times, the international trade secretary reaffirmed her commitment to this policy.
She is confident that talks on the India-UK free trade deal and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) could be concluded this year, stressed her focus on promoting inward investment into the UK.
Badenoch also made it clear that the topic of visas is ‘off the table’ in negotiations with the Indian government.
UK-India talks ran into trouble last year when home secretary Suella Braverman made comments about the level of Indians overstaying their visas.
Negotiations recently concluded a sixth round and round seven will be held soon.
Indian commerce minister Piyush Goyal said discussions are focused on what is acceptable to both countries, and should not be scuttled by “sensitive issues” such as student visas, reports Mint.
According to Britain’s high commissioner Alex Ellis, fences have been mended but political will is needed on both sides to push for a conclusion.
India and the UK currently trade about $29.6bn annually, and a mutually beneficial deal could be worth billions to both countries, reports Eastern Eye.
Foreign minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has also raised hopes that the UK will join the CPTPP soon.
She told NHK: “We are very excited about the prospect of becoming a member, I hope, in the relatively near future.”
Trevelyan was undertaking a week-long trip to CPTPP member Japan following the recent signing of the UK-Japan Reciprocal Access Agreement.
During the visit, she discussed the possibility of accession to the trade bloc and emphasised the benefits to both countries, the foreign office said.
During her stint as trade secretary, Trevelyan kickstarted UK-Israel trade talks over a new trade deal that focused on services.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak spoke to recently re-appointed Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as the UK looks to advance this relationship.
Both leaders agreed the deal could unlock further opportunities for both countries, although there was no further updates the details of any treaty.
On Monday (23 January), the House of Lords began its examination of the Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill.
The bill would put both trade deals onto the UK statute book.
The amendments cover a range of subjects including:
- Adding a ‘sunset clause’ Assessing the impact of the deal on farmers
- Requiring impact assessments on small businesses, labour rights and climate change
Australian agriculture minister Murray Watt travelled to the UK to ‘keep up momentum’ on the bill’s approval, reports the Financial Review.
Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker said relations with Ireland were on a “positive trajectory” and that he hoped would “bring the DUP and Eurosceptic MPs to the same positive base,” reports the Guardian.
For his part, taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he regrets that the Northern Ireland protocol was signed without the agreement of unionists and nationalists.
Talks on the protocol are ongoing.
On the subject of European relations, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has said that closer cooperation with Europe across security, trade and foreign policy will be a central plank of a Labour’s international relations policy.
According to Lloyd’s List, the UK’s international containerised trade lags European neighbours post-Brexit.