On January 1 this year, the UK left the European Union. That day also inaugurated the start of a transition period, during which the UK remained part of the EU customs union and single market. This period will end on December 31; thereafter the UK is free to implement its own trade deals with countries and blocs around the world.
Over the past two years, the UK has signed, or agreed in principle, trade agreements with 52 countries. The most notable FTA so far signed is the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement concluded with Japan last month.
“The UK is a firm believer in the power of free trade to increase mutual prosperity, reduce poverty, and create sustainable jobs and livelihoods,” UK high commissioner to South Africa Nigel Casey has told Engineering News & Mining Weekly.
“We will champion free trade internationally, working with our partners to help transform people’s lives around the world and our common future. For both developed and developing countries, ensuring global supply chains remain resilient through this [Covid-19 pandemic] crisis continues to be a priority, and will be an important part of our long-term economic recovery post-Covid-19.”
Africa and Southern Africa
To date, the UK has signed, or agreed in principle, trade agreements with six African partner countries or groups. These are Côte d’Ivoire (signed), the Eastern and Southern Africa trade bloc (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe – signed), Kenya (agreement in principle), Morocco (signed), the Southern Africa Customs Union plus Mozambique (SACU+M – signed) and Tunisia (signed).