Britain is at risk of losing the benefits of EU trade deals with more than a dozen countries on January 1 as time runs out for it to replace agreements that Brussels has with governments around the world.
The UK’s Department for International Trade said “engagement was ongoing” with 15 countries with which the EU has deals, with only weeks remaining until Britain’s post-Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.
Liz Truss, international trade secretary, hopes that an agreement can be signed with Canada before Britain falls out of EU trade deals on December 31, and British officials believe there is also an outside chance of getting a deal with Singapore over the line. These agreements would join accords the country has struck with key trading partners including Japan and Switzerland.
But negotiations are also still open with other economies including Mexico, Vietnam and Egypt — three countries whose combined trading relationship with the UK was worth close to £12bn in 2019 for goods alone. If deals with them are not in place by January 1, trading conditions would revert to basic World Trade Organization terms, with higher tariffs on UK imports and exports.
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