LONDON — Britain will lose access to dozens of trade agreements if it crashes out of the EU without a deal in March next year, the U.K. government confirmed in a “no-deal” planning notice published Friday.
The paper, drawn up by the Department for International Trade, says “around 40 free trade agreements with over 70 countries” will no longer apply to the U.K. if it leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.
The paper says these free-trade deals cover around 12 percent of the U.K.s total trade currently.
It is part of a batch of 28 documents published Friday afternoon covering a wide range of areas including the status of existing EU free-trade agreements, international sanctions policy, chemicals, rail safety standards, and commercial fishing. They take the total number of technical notices and other no-deal documents published to 105.
With fewer than six months to go until the U.K.s planned departure date of March 29, 2019, a no-deal outcome remains a significant risk, with a final deal with Brussels on the Withdrawal Agreement yet to be struck, and deep political divisions within the U.K. parliament threatening the ratification process that would follow any U.K.-EU Brexit deal.
On trade, the paper says that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the U.K. will seek to turn each of the 40 trade agreements it has through the EU into bilateral deals. If there is a gap between leaving the EU and negotiating a new bilateral agreement, the U.K. will fall back onto tariffs set by the World Trade Organization, according to the paper titled “Existing free trade agreements if theres no Brexit deal.”
“Should arrangements to maintain particular preferences in a no-deal scenario not be in place on exit day, trade would then take place on a Most-Favoured Nation basis, which is sometimes referred to as World Trade Organisation Terms,” the paper states.
A separate paper on “Geo-blocking of online content” states that British consumers may face higher prices for online goods and services from other European countries, including accessing digital streaming and e-commerce services, if the country is unable to secure a Brexit deal. A further paper warns that the U.K. government may need to “seek additional powers” to ensure the security of electricity in Northern Ireland if there is no Brexit deal.