Opinion

The UK secures trade agreements with 65 countries following recent Ghana deal

Published Mar 5, 2021
According to the UK High Commission in Accra, the United Kingdom has completed a tariff-free agreement with Ghana, providing a platform for economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries. The trade deal covers the export of Ghanaian bananas, tinned tuna, and cocoa to the UK. Following this deal, the UK has confirmed trade agreements with 65 non-EU countries, representing a trade value of GBP 217 billion (USD 300 billion), following the nation’s exit from the European Union.

Source: Modern Ghana

The trade deal between the UK and Ghana supports a trading relationship worth GBP 1.2 billion (USD 1.66 billion) and reinstated the economic partnership between both parties that existed when the UK was still an EU member. The agreement was signed by the UK Secretary of State for International Trade and Ghana’s Acting High Commissioner to the UK, on the 2nd of March 2021. It is expected that the deal will strengthen ties between the two countries. Ghana's main exports to the UK include crude oil, cocoa, fruits and vegetables, and fish. The country’s top imports include textile fibers, medicinal, pharmaceutical, and cleaning products from the UK. Ghana’s tariff-free access to the UK is expected to encourage business expansion, innovation, and job creation in the country.

Trade agreements secured by the UK since Brexit

Following the UK’s exit from the EU on the 1st of January 2021, the UK has been working on securing trade agreements with countries. Currently, deals have been penned with the EU and 65 non-EU members. The UK and the EU agreed on a trade agreement to facilitate trade between both parties, void of tariffs and quotas. This deal was vital as the European Union is currently the UK’s largest and closest trade partner, accounting for 49% of the UK’s trade. The UK-EU trade deal was announced on 24 December 2020.

% of total UK trade in 2018

Source: BBC, Department of International Trade

The EU and the UK have a vital agri-food trading relationship that both parties seek to nurture. The EU supplies large amounts of agri-food products to the UK, mainly fresh and processed vegetables and fruit, meat products, and meat preparations. The value of these products reached GBP 41 billion (USD 56.6 billion) in 2019.

Source: European Commission

The UK imports a significant share from the EU, amounting to 74% of the UK’s total agri-food imports in 2019. These imports include vital products such as dairy products, meat products, and food preparations, which accounted for the largest share of the UK’s agri-food imports from the EU.

Source: European Commission

Before Brexit, the UK was automatically included in any trade agreement the EU had negotiated with another country. The EU had approximately 40 trade deals covering more than 70 nations at the time the UK left. The UK has now agreed on deals to continue trading in the same way with 65 of these countries, plus the EU. Total trade with these countries was valued at GBP 890 billion (USD 1,228 billion) in 2019 and is equivalent to 63% of the UK’s total trade. This also makes up 97% of the value of trade with non-EU countries that the UK planned to secure deals with at the start of the trade continuity program. 26% of the UK’s agri-food imports also came from non-EU countries in 2019.

Trade agreements still in discussion

> The UK has signed trade agreements with other countries that are not yet in full effect. Deals between Albania, Canada, and Mexico are expected to enter into full effect in early 2021, while the agreement with Jordan is likely to come into full effect in May 2021.

> The UK is currently engaged in negotiations with Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia; however, agreements are not yet in place.

Mutual recognition agreements

The UK has also signed Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with Australia, New Zealand, and the US. An MRA is an agreement in which countries recognize the results of one another’s conformity assessments, which are processes that confirm whether a product meets the specified legal requirements. These agreements currently cover the UK’s trade agreement with Switzerland and Israel and the UK-Japan CEPA, which replicates the existing EU-Japan MRA’s effects. 

Sources:

> Modern Ghana. “Ghana to export banana, tuna, cocoa to UK under a tariff-free agreement.

> Department of International Trade. “UK trade agreements with non-EU countries.

> BBC. “Brexit: What trade deals has the UK done so far?

> European Commission. “EU agriculture and the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the    EU.

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