Trade agreements until 31 December 2020
The UK has left the EU. The Withdrawal Agreement sets out how the UK is able to continue to be covered by EU-third country trade agreements until 31 December 2020.
On this basis, EU trade agreements can continue to apply to the UK.
Where EU trade agreements apply, UK and EU content will continue to count toward the rules of origin requirements in EU trade agreements until 31 December 2020, in exactly the same way as now.
The EU has issued a notification to third countries outlining this approach.
If you are having problems trading during the transition period, please contact your local international trade adviser.
Trade agreements from 1 January 2021
After 31 December 2020, EU trade agreements will not apply to the UK.
The UK is seeking to reproduce the effects of existing EU agreements for when they no longer apply to the UK.
This will ensure continuity of trading arrangements for UK businesses.
If we do not reproduce the effects of an existing EU agreement, trade with other World Trade Organization (WTO) members will take place on WTO terms when EU trade agreements cease to apply to the UK.
Find out more about trading under WTO terms.
Trade agreements that have been signed
Agreements with the following countries and trading blocs are expected to take effect when existing EU trade agreements no longer apply to the UK, from 1 January 2021.
|Country or bloc||Total UK trade with countries, 2019 (£ million) (1)|
|Andean countries (2)||2,904|
|CARIFORUM trade bloc||3,243|
|Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) trade bloc||1,626|
|Iceland and Norway (3)||26,834|
|Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACUM) trade bloc||12,121|
|1 Source of trade statistics: ONS UK total trade: all countries, non-seasonally adjusted January to March 2020.|
|2 After 31 December 2020, it is expected an arrangement will be in place prior to this agreement taking effect.|
|3 The UK signed a trade agreement in goods with Iceland and Norway on the 2 April 2019. This agreement was signed to maintain continuity of trade and was part of preparations for a potential ‘no deal’ Brexit. It will not enter into force. The UK’s future relationship with these countries is influenced by their relationship with the EU, as they are EEA member states. We will continue to engage with Iceland and Norway to determine the most effective way of maintaining and strengthening trade with them beyond the transition period.|
Trade agreements still in discussion
The following agreements are still under discussion with countries where there are existing EU trade agreements in place.
If an agreement is not reached by 31 December 2020, trade with other WTO members will take place on WTO terms.
|Country or bloc||Status of discussions|
|Albania (Western Balkans)||Engagement ongoing|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina (Western Balkans)||Engagement ongoing|
|Cameroon (Central Africa)||Engagement ongoing|
|Côte d’Ivoire||Engagement ongoing|
|East African Community (EAC)||Engagement ongoing|
|Ghana (Western Africa)||Engagement ongoing|
|Montenegro (Western Balkans)||Engagement ongoing|
|North Macedonia (Western Balkans)||Engagement ongoing|
|Serbia (Western Balkans)||Engagement ongoing|
Trade agreement discussions with countries in Customs Unions with the EU
Andorra, San Marino and Turkey are part of Customs Unions with the EU. The UK’s future trading relationship with these countries will be influenced by the agreement the UK reaches with the EU.
Trade agreement discussions with Japan
The UK and Japan have agreed to negotiate a new bilateral agreement using the existing EU agreement as a base, looking for opportunities to enhance areas of mutual interest.
Mutual recognition agreements
A mutual recognition agreement (MRA) is one in which countries recognise the results of one another’s conformity assessments.
A conformity assessment is a set of processes that confirm whether a product meets the specified legal requirements. This can include testing, inspection, and certification.
The UK has signed MRAs that replicate the effect of existing EU arrangements. These are expected to take effect from 1 January 2021. The withdrawal agreement allows for the EU’s arrangements to continue to apply to the UK until then.
The UK has signed MRAs with:
MRA coverage in trade agreements
The UK’s trade agreement with Switzerland incorporates elements of the EU-Switzerland MRA.
The UK’s trade agreement with Israel covers conformity assessment of industrial products. This means that existing arrangements with Israel will continue after 31 December 2020.
MRA discussions with Japan
Discussions with Japan on a UK-Japan MRA are ongoing. The UK and Japan have signed an exchange of letters designed to ensure the continuity of existing arrangements as a temporary measure.
- how you trade with a country if there is no trade agreement in place following the transition period
- about EU free trade agreements in which the UK currently participates
- about EU mutual recognition agreements in which the UK currently participates
- about international agreements with non-EU countries during the transition period