David Davis: We will negotiate trade deals during transition, even if we're "replicating" customs union

Catherine Neilan
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Replicating the customs union will not "preclude" us from striking deals (Source: Getty)

Brexit secretary David Davis will set out his vision for the UK's demands for the shape the transition period will take after the UK leaves the EU.

The minister will travel to Middlesborough on Friday, where he will stress that the UK will become "an independent country" and as such will "once again have its own trading policy".

"For the first time in more than 40 years, we will be able to step out and sign new trade deals with old friends, and new allies, around the globe," Davis will say. In particular, he is expected to highlight emerging markets in Asia and the Americas, specifically China and Brazil, as trading partners of growing importance.

"We will be able to do so much more with them, when we are an independent trading nation, outside of the EU," he will say.

Davis will highlight the ongoing restrictions that mean the UK cannot begin negotiating trade deals until we have left the bloc in March 2019.

But while we will "replicate the effects" of the customs union thereafter, transition will "not preclude us from formally negotiating — or indeed signing — trade agreements," the minister will say.

The government has come under increasing pressure to show evidence that trade deals are in the pipeline, and that the country is open for business from day one after Brexit.

Davis' speech comes during a week in which Brussels has set out its parameters for the next phase of negotiations ahead of the start of formal discussions.

According to documents published this week, the EU expects all its laws and regulations to apply during the transition period, however the UK will not participate in the decision-making of the EU, meaning the country will have no say on any laws created during the transition period. Davis said on Wednesday there might be "issues" with this demand.

Brussels is also expected to demand freedom of movement continue throughout the transition period, which Prime Minister Theresa May has previously ruled out.

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