Only pol­i­tics blocks the way for smooth Brexit trade deals: Fox

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Bri­tish Trade Min­is­ter Liam Fox said on Fri­day there were no ob­sta­cles to repli­cat­ing the cur­rent smooth trad­ing agree­ments be­tween Bri­tain and the EU af­ter Brexit, un­less “pol­i­tics got in the way of good eco­nomics”. Fox’s com­ments came a day af­ter the EU’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor, Michel Barnier, said Lon­don’s “red lines” for a fu­ture trad­ing re­la­tion­ship meant Bri­tain was def­i­nitely leav­ing the sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union and would carry con­se­quences.

Bri­tain re­sponded to Barnier by say­ing it was still hop­ing for trade that was “as fric­tion­less as pos­si­ble”. “We’re go­ing into an ar­range­ment with the EU al­ready with zero tar­iffs, we’re go­ing there with com­plete reg­u­la­tory equiv­a­lence and with cus­toms sys­tems that al­ready work,” Fox told Reuters dur­ing a visit to Paris. “The only rea­son we wouldn’t repli­cate them would be if pol­i­tics got in the way of good eco­nomics.”

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May wants to use Brexit to cre­ate a “Global Bri­tain”, say­ing Lon­don will be in a stronger po­si­tion out­side the EU to ne­go­ti­ate new trade deals. May has ac­knowl­edged Bri­tain may need an im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod to smooth its exit from the bloc, and busi­ness lead­ers have pressed her to push for Bri­tain to re­main within the sin­gle mar­ket un­til a fi­nal deal is ne­go­ti­ated.

Fox said the gov­ern­ment “wanted to have min­i­mal dis­rup­tion and max­i­mum con­ti­nu­ity” un­til it reached a fi­nal agree­ment, adding that it was per­fectly rea­son­able that peo­ple should want to have some tran­si­tional pe­riod. “But we can’t have a per­pet­ual tran­si­tional pe­riod un­der­min­ing the con­cept of Brexit it­self,” he said. Bri­tain is not al­lowed to ne­go­ti­ate and con­clude new trade agree­ments with non-EU coun­tries as long as it is a mem­ber of the union. Nonethe­less, Fox dis­missed sug­ges­tions that a tran­si­tional pe­riod might ham­per his ef­forts to reach new ac­cords swiftly.

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