On 11 October 2017, the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) released a UK-EU joint letter to the WTO membership that shows progress and coordination to prepare for future trading arrangements. The DIT release stated:
In preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, UK government and the European Commission have set out a number of proposals for future global trading arrangements in a joint letter to World Trade Organization (WTO) members (PDF, 156KB, 2 pages)
Since the EU referendum a year ago, the Department for International Trade has been forging ahead to establish the UK’s future independent trade policy as we leave the EU. This includes separating out the UK’s trading commitments to other WTO members from the EU’s overall commitments; as the UK’s current commitments to other WTO members, such as the tariffs it sets, are applied through the EU.
To kick-start this process, the UK and the European Commission have written to the WTO membership in a commitment to provide clarity and to work constructively and openly with international partners. The proposals include apportioning the EU’s existing commitments on the amount of imported goods on which a lower duty is charged. These tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) apply to a range of everyday items such as dairy products and meat.
The UK and the EU have worked cooperatively as we seek to maintain the existing levels of market access for countries, namely:
- apportioning tariff rate quotas (TRQs)
- apportioning the allowable amount of certain agricultural subsidies
- working on the UK’s continued membership of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement – the approach to ensuring open and fair competition to government contracts
International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:
As an international economic department, we’ve been working closely with the European Commission to prepare for our withdrawal from the EU in order to minimise any disruption to global trade.
Our agreed collaborative approach shows real progress on how UK government intends to take forward our future trading arrangements with the world. This is the start of our open and constructive engagement with the WTO membership and sets out our intentions regarding EU quotas to forge ahead and establish the UK as an independent WTO member.
To ensure a smooth transition which minimises disruption to our trading relationships with other WTO members the UK intends to replicate as far as possible its obligations under the current commitments of the EU.
This agreed approach between the UK and EU will now form the first part of our cooperative, inclusive and open engagement we will have with WTO members, in accordance with WTO rules and procedures.