UK and Switzerland formally sign trade deal
The UK and Switzerland have formally agreed a trade deal which will see the two countries continue trading on the same terms post Brexit.
Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, travelled to Bern, Switzerland, on Monday to sign the deal, known as a ‘trade continuity agreement’. Under it, the UK and Switzerland will continue trading on preferential terms after Britain quits the European Union. According to the Department for International Trade, Britain has “a major trade surplus with Switzerland”, with exports worth £19bn in 2017.
Britain currently enjoys around 40 deals with third-party countries through the EU, and the government is looking to roll over the agreements when the UK leaves the bloc.
A similar deal to the one with Switzerland has been agreed with Israel, and terms struck with Australia and New Zealand. But there has been less progress with many other countries, including Japan, South Korea and Canada.
Without new agreements in place, tariffs would revert to those set by the World Trade Organisation in the event of a no-deal Brexit, something business groups are keen to avoid.
The agreement with Switzerland will come into effect either when the implementation period ends in January 2021 or on 29 March 2019 if the UK crashes out without a deal.
The DIT first announced the deal in December. At the time, it called it “the first and one of the most significant existing trade agreements to the UK to have been agreed as part of the government’s preparations to ensure the continuity for business and consumers as we leave the EU”.
On Monday, the department added that the deal would “deliver significant savings and help to safeguard British jobs,” according to the Financial Times.