Trade Briefs

How will United Kingdom-African trade be conducted post-Brexit?

How will United Kingdom-African trade be conducted post-Brexit?

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13 May 2019

Author(s): Gerhard Erasmus and Willemien Viljoen

The United Kingdom is in the process of extricating itself from the European Union, a comprehensive and well-functioning common market. As a result, it will be required to re-invent its own trade governance regime. The immediate concern is that there is no deal yet about exiting the EU. We do not yet know what ‘Brexit’ means. Only once the Withdrawal Agreement is agreed and an orderly exit from the EU has been achieved, will negotiating a new deal about future trade with the EU (the UK’s biggest trading partner) be possible.

To provide for preferential trade post-Brexit, the UK will need to conclude new agreements with more than 40 countries with which the EU has such arrangements, and from which the UK benefited as an EU member. The UK government is looking to “roll-over” existing trade benefits, but this may prove to be a complicated matter. Until the content of a final Brexit deal is known, there will be no certainty as to what must be rolled over and when. Eventually Brussels will have to agree with whatever is negotiated with the UK in order to ensure compatibility with the existing Economic Partnership Agreements.

In terms of what international arrangements and domestic rules will UK-African trade then be conducted? This Trade Brief discusses some of the legal concerns.


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