U.K. Turns To Emerging Markets For Trade As Brexit Talks Begin
Britain is turning to the world’s poorest countries to shore up trade as Brexit puts existing deals on an uncertain footing.
The government promises improved access to U.K. markets for the world’s poorest countries and to maintain existing duty-free access for “everything but arms” for 48 countries including Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and Haiti, according to an emailed statement from the prime minister’s office. Britain will also seek to expand relationships with nations including Jamaica, Pakistan and Ghana.
After decades of access to the European Union’s single market, the U.K. now has to strike out alone, following the 2016 vote to leave the bloc. In the Brexit negotiations that began June 19 in Brussels, the EU is demanding clarity on the future of its citizens living in Britain before talks on a post-EU trading relationship begin.
Trade Secretary Liam Fox has been in discussions with countries including the U.S. and India to lay the groundwork for new deals, since the government is barred from completing talks while still part of the EU.
“Our departure from the EU is an opportunity to step up to our commitments to the rest of the world, not step away from them,” Fox said. The announcement “shows our commitment to helping developing countries grow their economies and reduce poverty through trade.”
The U.K. currently imports around 20 billion pounds ($25.6 billion) a year from developing nations including Bangladesh and Sierra Leone, the government said. Almost 80 percent of the country’s tea comes from the “least developed” nations, and slightly less than a quarter of all coffee imports.