The UK’s bid to fast-track its post-Brexit entry to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) failed today, after other countries expressed misgivings over Britain’s approach to tariffs.
The news means the UK will face a longer path towards using the WTO, by entering a lengthy period of negotiations.
That means the process of joining the WTO could take years, Reuters said.
However, the UK can still trade on uncertified schedules while negotiations take place.
International trade secretary Liam Fox told parliament today: “Some trading partners have expressed reservations about our proposed treatment of tariff rate quotas. I am therefore announcing today that the UK intends to enter negotiations with relevant partners under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
“The notification to formally invite claims in that process is now being prepared. Through the Article XXVIII process the aim is to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion that maintains the balance of rights and obligations for the UK and our trading partners.”
Fox did not name which of the 164 WTO states objected to the UK’s entry being fast-tracked, but it means that other countries can now ask Britain to make concessions in order to join.
While the UK is already a member of the WTO, its membership is tied up with the EU’s, and it must have its own agreement in place to remain a member once it leaves the bloc.
A Department for International Trade spokesperson said: “The large majority of our trading partners do not have any objections to our proposed goods schedule. A small number have submitted their concerns and would like to discuss further.
“This was expected and does not impact our ability to trade independently. The terms we have set out will form the basis of our trade policy while we engage with our WTO partners to address their concerns.”