Since the UK exited the European Union in 2020, a major focus of government policy has been negotiating new trade agreements with nations across the globe.
Speaking at the global investment summit last month, business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch said she wanted the UK to be seen as a “dynamo for investment, free trade and growth”.
While work is still underway on securing deals with the USA and India, among others, there have been some successes this year, from the Australia and New Zealand deals taking effect, to the UK signing up to the CPTPP agreement.
City A.M. has all you need to know on the UK’s current crop of free trade deals.
Australia and New Zealand
The UK’s first post-Brexit trade deals – signed in 2021 and 2022 respectively – came into force at the end of May 2023, with tariffs on all UK goods exports to the nations removed.
Despite describing the deal as historic, the government forecasts it will raise UK GDP by just 0.08 per cent, or £2.3bn a year, by 2035.
Farmers have criticised the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which negotiated when Liz Truss was trade secretary; the then environment secretary George Eustice admitted it was “not actually a very good deal”.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK’s top import from Australia in 2022 was beverages and tobacco, and our top export was cars, which had dropped by 48 per cent in five years.
In July 2023, the UK signed an agreement to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
This is an Asia-Pacific trade bloc of 11 countries and in November, in San Francisco, Badenoch attended a CPTPP meeting for the first time since the UK agreed to join.
Parliament is still in the process of ratifying the deal, and the Bill to do this was part of the King’s Speech – or the State Opening of Parliament – last month, meaning it is one of the government’s top priorities for the next year.
Once the UK joins the group, CPTPP will be worth £12trn , or 15 per cent of global GDP – and over 99 per cent of UK goods exports to CPTPP countries will face zero tariffs.
In March 2023, the UK signed a digital trade agreement with Ukraine to support their economy as they continue to fight against Russia’s invasion.
The deal sees the UK pledge to remove all tariffs on Ukrainian products until March 2024, as well as guaranteeing collaboration on data and cyber security.
The UK also signed a digital trade deal with Singapore in 2022, which took effect later that year.