Europe

Brexit TURBOCHARGE: UK to start mega trade talks with Canada and Mexico this week

India trade deal ‘not possible’ without Brexit says Liz Truss

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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss will start the process of securing new deals in pursuit of a “bright future beyond Covid”. The UK wants to build on existing arrangements with these countries to “harness the digital revolution, boost innovation and turbocharge our pursuit of green growth”.

The effort comes on the heels of starting work on a trade deal with India with the goal of doubling the value of trade – worth around £23billion in 2019 – by the end of the decade.

Ms Truss says a trade deal with Australia is “now in sight” and it is hoped it will be agreed in the coming weeks.

She said: “It will be our first ‘from scratch’ deal outside the EU, supporting jobs across the country by helping businesses export more of their brilliant goods and services, and will boost ties with a friend and ally that shares our values and beliefs.”

The UK is also preparing to start negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Ms Truss said: “We will be the first non-founding member to join this high-standards pact, opening a huge gateway for UK businesses to 11 vibrant Pacific markets.”

However, the optimism about future deals is tempered by growing concern about the harm caused to UK trade by post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Protocol was intended to avoid the need for customs check along the Irish border but it has disrupted trade between Great Britain and the province.

DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson, a director of the Centre for Brexit Policy, said the new arrangements had damaged trade within the UK and now threatened jobs in Great Britain.

Mr Wilson claimed that imports into Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland surged “by a massive 28%” after the protocol came into force, displacing trade with the British mainland.

The MP said the UK Government should consider using emergency override provisions to “protect the UK internal market”.

He said: “Even if the government dismisses complaints from Northern Ireland about the economic impact of the protocol on increased prices and reduced choice for Northern Ireland consumers, surely it will wish to protect jobs in Great Britain which are impacted by this displacement of trade.”

Claiming that trade between the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain has also been badly hit, he said: “It is in the economic interests of both sides to look for a replacement which safeguards their economies and mutual interests.”

A UK government spokesman said: “We recognise the issues have been raised by businesses about the operation of the Protocol. As [Cabinet Office minister] Lord Frost [said], it is hard to see that the way the protocol is currently operating can be sustainable for long.

“Solutions are rapidly needed to ease the burdens on business and ensure the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement is fully respected in all its dimensions.

“We remain committed to working through the issues with the EU and we hope they will show common sense and take a risk-based approach.”

A senior Government source said: “We cannot tolerate unreasonable impacts on trade across the UK. It is not consistent with the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement or, therefore, the protocol.

“The protocol is not designed to protect the EU Single Market over and above the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.”

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