A trade continuity agreement will see British businesses and consumers benefitting from continued trading arrangements with Fiji and Papua New Guinea after the UK leaves the EU.
The agreement allows businesses to trade as freely as they do now, without any additional barriers or tariffs. It eliminates all tariffs on all goods imported from Fiji and Papua New Guinea into the UK and will gradually remove around 80 per cent of tariffs on British exports to these countries.
The Pacific islands deal is part of the UK’s pledge to support developing nations and use trade to reduce poverty, but it also comes as ministers rush to sign deals with about 70 countries the UK trades with under EU free trade agreements, which are due to end in two weeks’ time.
Those agreements would, however, be rolled over if MPs approve Theresa May’s deal before 29 March or if Brexit is delayed through an article 50 extension.
International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “I am delighted to sign this trade continuity agreement today as it will allow businesses to keep trading as freely as they do today, even in a no deal scenario.
“This is good news for British business and consumers who will continue to benefit from the continued supply of products, including sugar and fish.
“The agreement will also benefit thousands of people in some of the furthest reaches of the Commonwealth, with around a quarter of Fijians relying on employment through the sugar industry according to the Fiji Sugar Corporation and more than a quarter of the sugarcane they produce being exported to the UK.”
The new UK-Pacific agreement replicates the existing trading arrangements as far as possible and is expected to come into effect as soon as the implementation period ends in January 2021, or as soon as the UK leave the EU if we leave without a deal.