Among the arguments for Brexit was the idea that Britain could do far more trade with the world’s poorest countries. High eu tariffs, it was claimed, posed an insurmountable barrier for poor farmers.
That was not quite true. Under the EU’s rules, dozens of poor countries, including Angola and Bangladesh, face no tariffs on “everything but arms”. Somewhat better-off countries like India enjoy reductions on two-thirds of tariff lines, which can be cut to zero if they adhere to 27 international conventions on labour rights, the environment and the like.
Yet Brexit does afford an opportunity for liberalisation, which Liz Truss, the trade secretary, is keen to exploit. Although some countries make extensive use of the eu scheme when trading with Britain, others, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, do not.
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