EU pandemonium as countries 'waiting in line' to strike Brexit-style trade deal

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Britain and the EU reached a post-Brexit trade deal in December last year – after almost nine months of fraught negotiations. Announced on Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “jumbo Canada-style” deal and declared: “All our red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved. “Everything that the British public were promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal.”

The deal is without a doubt a huge triumph for the Prime Minister, who in 2019, won a thumping majority at the general election with the promise “to get Brexit done”.

This new partnership could cause some problems for the EU, though.

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, historian and head of an Icelandic free-market think tank Hjörtur J. Guðmundsson insisted many countries, including the ones in the European Economic Area (EEA), will want to strike a similar deal with the bloc.

He said: “In Norway, you now have political parties calling for Norway to reconsider membership of the EEA.

“They are calling for a comprehensive trade agreement, something similar to what the UK has negotiated with the EU.

“This is actually the form of trade agreement that most countries around the world are now asking for.

“They are waiting in line for it.

“They are not waiting in line for an agreement similar to the EEA.”

Government trade adviser Shanker Singham echoed Mr Guðmundsson’s claims in another interview with Express.co.uk, as he declared the Brexit deal is better than what the Swiss have with the bloc.

Mr Singham, the CEO of economic consultancy Competere, said: “There is no one in the world that has a full zero-quota, zero-tariff deal with the EU.

“We are the only country that has that.

“To get a zero-quota, zero-tariff deal with the EU is very very unusual.”

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He added: “Frankly, this is a better deal than what the Swiss have with the EU.

“If I was Switzerland, I would want a similar deal.

“And in fact, if I was Switzerland, Turkey or even one of the Mediterranean countries like Morocco, I would be going for this exact kind of deal.”

Switzerland is not an EU member state.

It is associated with the Union through a series of bilateral treaties in which Bern has adopted various provisions of EU law in order to participate in the Union’s single market, without joining as a member state.

All but one – the microstate Liechtenstein – of Switzerland’s neighbouring countries are EU member states.

It took 17 years for Bern to hammer out a one-off bilateral trade deal, which was said to be nowhere near as complex as the one Mr Johnson negotiated.

Mr Singham added that the dispute resolution in the Brexit deal will be a “great advantage to global trade”.

If either side moves away from common standards and if that has a negative impact on the other side, a dispute mechanism can be triggered which could mean tariffs being imposed.

However, it will be based around a “rebalancing” clause, which gives both the EU and the UK the right to take steps if there are significant divergences. This clause is much stricter than measures found in other recent EU trade deals.

Mr Singham said: “The transmission of a correctly applied rebalancing clause will be a great advantage to global trade.

“If it is used as a market distortion reduction tool, I reckon there would be an appetite in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for it… provided it is linked with a zero-tariff and zero-quota deal.”



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