Following the UK’s departure as a Member State from the EU on 31 January 2020, the UK is now considering pursuing Free Trade Agreements (“FTAs”) with the EU and the rest of the world.

Today, the Department for International Trade (“DIT”) outlined the UK Government’s proposed approach to the negotiation of FTAs with countries which it has identified as being priority partners. These at present include the USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It is thought that these bilateral negotiations may pave the way for the UK eventually to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The UK Government anticipates outlining the negotiating directives for the US-UK FTA in due course, but has indicated that some of the priority areas for the UK-USA FTA include goods market access, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, sustainability, trade in services, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, investment, SMEs, digital trade, intellectual property and government procurement.

In parallel, as part of the UK’s new trade policy, the DIT has also launched a public consultation aimed at assisting the development of a new UK Most Favoured Nation (“MFN”) tariff which is due to enter into force on 1 January 2021 and will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff which currently applies to imports into the UK. Under the MFN, it is anticipated that tariffs will apply to all goods imported into the UK, unless an exception applies.