Although the United Kingdom has successfully signed continuity agreements with Chile, the Faroe Islands, and Eastern and Southern Africa,  the embattled nation is still struggling to lock down free trade agreements (FTA) ahead of the March 29 Brexit date. Speaking at a parliamentary inquiry to the International Trade Committee on February 6, trade minister Liam Fox was unable to confirm that all 40 FTAs that make up the UK’s existing deals as a member of the European Union would still be in place after the exit date.

If the UK fails to secure a deal with a current trading partner before March 29, then both parties will default to World Trade Organization (WTO) trading rules. This would incur additional tariffs to a wide range of traded goods that were previously duty free when the UK was part of the EU. If a withdrawal agreement is successfully secured between the UK and the EU before the exit date, then all 40 agreements are expected to be extended during the transition period, which is set to end in 2021.

Continuity agreements

The UK is expected to strike additional continuity agreements with Israel and Switzerland in the coming month. Although these agreements are open-ended, the UK can leverage them to facilitate further trade relationships with other partners independently from the EU. No other continuity agreements are confirmed to be in negotiation at this time.

Fox is scheduled to address the International Trade Committee again on March 8.

If you would like to read more about post-Brexit trade agreements, visit Global Trade Review or UK’s Department of International Trade.