Once the UK leaves the EU formally on 31 January 2020, we enter an implementation period, during which all trade continues in accordance with existing plant and flower health, food safety, customs and VAT rules and regulations. So are we entering a year of turmoil. We will need to wait and see as we have been doing for 3 years.
The EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill continues its steps through Parliament in readiness for the UK leaving the EU on 31 January 2020. The Bill is expected to complete its Commons stages on 7-9 January 2020 before it goes to the House of Lords. The following changes were made to the Bill in the House of Commons prior to Christmas:
Main changes to the current version of the Bill
- Removal of clause giving MPs a veto over the Government agreeing to an extension of the transition period beyond 31 December 2020 or implementation period in the Joint Committee.
- Removal of clause giving MPs a veto over the start of future relationship negotiations with the EU and on the terms of their negotiating mandate. It would have also given Parliament a greater influence over any future relationship treaty that was subsequently negotiated.
- Removal of clause providing protections for workers’ rights that would not be protected against modification, repeal or revocation in domestic law once the transition period ended.
- Removal of the power to extend the provision under which the UK would make financial payments to the EU beyond March 2021 in the current version of the Bill.
Additions to the Bill
- Reporting requirements to Parliament where the Joint Committee’s dispute procedures are used
- Prohibiting any UK Minister from agreeing to an extension of the transition or implementation period in the Joint Committee.
Trade Agreements – update
The UK Government has published documents containing treaty information and summaries of the agreement of trade between the UK and a number of countries.
Edible vegetables, fruit and nuts are highlighted in the following Parliamentary Reports as in the top 5 UK imports from these countries.
Where possible, Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) have been resized based on three years’ worth of customs data, which detail actual usage of the TRQs by importers. This customs data is held by HMRC which records the volume and date of entry of shipments of goods that enter the UK claiming TRQ preferences. Where three years’ worth of customs data is not available, trade flow data hasbeen used instead.
The UK is retaining the flexibility to implement an Entry Price System following its withdrawal from the EU. The UK agreements with individual countries are including this provision.
The UK has signed continuity agreements with the following countries for when the UK leaves the EU:
- Andean countries (Columbia; Ecuador; Peru)
- Iceland and Norway
- Eastern and Southern Africa (Madegascar*;Mauritius; Seychelles, Zimbabwe)
- Faroe Islands
- Pacific States (Papua New Guinea and Fiji)
- CARIFORUM countries
- South Korea
- Central America (Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Nicaragua; Panama)
- Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACU + M) trade bloc – South Africa has signed the UK-SACU+M trade agreement.
- The countries which will be covered by the UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement are:
- Antigua and Barbuda*
- Dominican Republic
- St Christopher and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
The UK has signed mutual recognition agreements with Australia; New Zealand; and the United States of America.
A continuity agreement simplifies trade and allows businesses to trade as freely as they do now, without any additional barriers or tariffs.
Thank you to Nigel Jenney of the FPC for the updates.