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New data from pro-Brexit group Facts4EU suggests that only 11 “real trade agreements” are currently in place, with the remaining deals the EU have on the table still being reviewed. The organisation said it excluded the likes of “association”, “partnership and cooperation”, and “stabilisation and association” agreements as, according to Facts4EU, “they do not affect tariffs”. Currently – the Trade Directorate of the EU Commission reports – agreements are in place with Switzerland and the Faroe Islands, as well as economic area agreements with Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein.
There is a customs union pact in place with Turkey, free trade agreements (FTA) with South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam, while Mexico and Japan boast global agreements with the EU.
Facts4EU also concluded that San Marino and Andorra should be excluded from any list of deals as they are “both effectively part of the EU”, while “French President Emmanuel Macron is even the ‘co-prince of Andorra'”.
In July, the EU Parliament claimed to have “about 100 trade agreements in place or in the process of being updated or negotiated”.
It added: “Trade agreements are not only an opportunity to reduce tariffs, but also to get our partners to recognise EU quality and safety standards, and to respect products with a protected designation of origin, such as champagne or Roquefort cheese.
“This is very important as European food products enjoy a worldwide reputation for excellence and tradition.”
Currently, negotiations between the EU and the UK are ongoing about future trade relations between the two, with a December 31 deadline of when it will be enacted.
Commenting on its finding, Facts4EU said: “The pro-EU lobby will naturally take issue with the above. The problem they have is the EU’s own declarations and descriptions of its agreements. The EU may wish to headline ‘100 trade agreements’, but what the British people and British businesses care about is what affects them.
“We have taken a fairly firm view on what constitutes a ‘trade deal in force’, but we have used the EU Trade Directorates’s own data.
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“We have also used their list for ‘trade deals in force’. The only removals are for what most reasonable people would consider to be double-counting (eg Andorra) and agreements which aren’t really trade deals at all.”
Talks between the UK and EU commence again in Brussels this week, as both parties continue discussions on securing a FTA.
Negotiations have been strained however, with both sides disappointed in the lack of headway being made, and rows over details such as fishing access, the level playing field, state aid and the role of the European Court of Justice.
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With time running out on striking a deal, the EU warned that the two sides had to reach an agreement by October at the very latest.
According to Politico, an official involved in the talks added: “The UK desperately needs this deal. If the clock is ticking, reality will start to sink in in London.
“The UK might not always have behaved rationally in its negotiations with Brussels, but surely the pandemic and the lack of trade alternatives must lead to some reason in London.”
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