Thursday, 15 March 2018 05:49


The UK will have to convert the EU’s free trade agreements into new deals “or risk losing them” – but they could still be “less valuable to the UK”, a former senior WTO official has told Holyrood.

Peter Ungphakorn, the former Senior Information Officer at the World Trade Organisation Secretariat, made the warning in written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s European Committee.

Mr Ungphakorn warned that attempts to copy and paste existing agreements would “almost certainly” lead to other countries seeking to renegotiate terms and that attempting to mimic existing rules of origin would be “much less valuable for the UK”.

Commenting, SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon said:

“This is just the latest warning that the UK will be worse off if the Tories get their way and see us crash out of the single market and customs union.

“As part of the EU, we benefit from trade deals around the world – but the Tories want to rip them up for renegotiated, standalone deals that will inevitably leave us poorer.

“Even the UK government’s own analysis shows that staying in the single market and customs union is the best option for the jobs, investment and the economy. 

“The fact that both the Tories and Labour want to sacrifice jobs and household incomes for a hard Brexit underlines the case for Scotland to take these decisions ourselves.”

Full written evidence is available here:

“Leaving the EU means the British government will either have to convert the EU’s free trade agreements with other countries into UK deals, or risk losing them, when Brexit is supposed to be about to allowing Britain more freedom to enjoy trade agreements with the world outside the EU.

“At the very least, the UK should continue with the deals it already has through the EU, with Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Canada, South Korea, Japan (in the pipeline) and many others…

“Even then, the “rolled over” free trade agreements could be less valuable to the UK outside the EU than inside, unless talks can be set up with all three parties leading to something called “diagonal cumulation of rules of origin”.

“Although Canada is apparently keen to use copy-paste as much as possible, there will almost certainly be renegotiations over the tariff quotas.

“Could these rules of origin just be run through the photocopier? Maybe. But remember right now exports from the UK to S.Korea only have to qualify as “made in the EU”, meaning components could be sourced anywhere in the 28 countries. A post-Brexit UK-S.Korea free trade agreement would only deal with products “made in the UK”. In other words, from the point of view of qualifying products, a future UK-S.Korea agreement will be much less valuable for the UK than the present EU-S.Korea agreement.”

Read 432 times Last modified on Thursday, 15 March 2018 05:55

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