Britain and Switzerland to sign post-Brexit trade agreement

In this file photo taken on January 21, 2019 A pedestrian walks pas a placard reading "People's Vote" as Brexit activists demonstrate outside of the Houses of Parliament in central London, while Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement to the House of Commons on changes to her Brexit withdrawal agreement. (AFP file)
Updated 11 February 2019
0

Britain and Switzerland to sign post-Brexit trade agreement

  • The accord will protect a trade relationship worth $41.41 billion
  • Britain has reached an impasse in its last-minute renegotiation of an exit deal that it agreed with the EU last year
LONDON: Britain and Switzerland will sign an agreement on Monday to continue trading on preferential terms after Brexit, the British trade department said, protecting a trade relationship worth 32 billion pounds ($41.41 billion).
The formal signing of the deal, on which agreement had previously been announced, is one of only handful of concrete steps Britain has made toward ensuring that all the trade deals it currently benefits from as an EU member will continue after it leaves the bloc next month.
“Not only will this help to support jobs throughout the UK but it will also be a solid foundation for us to build an even stronger trading relationship with Switzerland as we leave the EU,” International Trade minister Liam Fox said in a statement.
The deal reflects Switzerland’s “mind the gap” strategy of ensuring seamless trade ties with Britain, regardless of whether London is able to strike and approve a formal exit agreement with Brussels by March 29, the date it is scheduled to leave.
Britain has reached an impasse in its last-minute renegotiation of an exit deal that it agreed with the EU last year but that was overwhelmingly rejected by the British parliament in January.
The government said last month it expects Britain will have most of the agreements it needs to replicate existing trade deals between the EU and third countries ready by the end of March.
A similar continuity agreement has been announced with Israel, and ‘mutual recognition’ deals have been agreed with Australia and New Zealand.
But the head of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn, said on Sunday the “unfolding nightmare” of Britain’s exit meant that major trade partners like Japan and South Korea were reluctant to sign deals until they knew the exact shape of future EU-Britain ties.
“It will be the decisions that businesses take about jobs and investment — and they will reduce them — so you have less potential to trade globally, that will mean less investment in the future and that will mean fewer jobs in the future,” she told Sky News.


China-US trade talks ‘making a final sprint’ — state media

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, right, look on before proceeding to their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China February 15, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 February 2019
0

China-US trade talks ‘making a final sprint’ — state media

  • US duties on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if there is no deal by March 1 to address US demands

SHANGHAI: Chinese state media on Saturday expressed cautious optimism over trade talks between the United States and China, a day after President Xi Jinping said a week of discussions had produced “step-by-step” progress.
Xi made the comments at a meeting on Friday with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing, after a week of senior- and deputy-level talks.
The People’s Daily, the official paper of the ruling Communist Party, said in a commentary that Xi’s meeting with US negotiators had affirmed progress made in previous talks and “injected new impetus into the next stage of the development of Sino-US trade relations.”
The talks “have made important progress” for the next round of negotiations in Washington next week, the paper said in its domestic edition.
“It is hoped that the two sides will maintain the good momentum of the current consultations and strive to reach an agreement within the set time limit,” it said.
US duties on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if there is no deal by March 1 to address US demands that China curb forced technology transfers and better enforce intellectual property rights.
In its overseas edition, the People’s Daily said “zero-sum thinking and games where you lose and I win can only create losses for both. Only on a basis of mutual respect and equal treatment, through dialogue and consultation, can we find a solution acceptable to both sides.”
An English-language editorial in the Global Times, which is published by the People’s Daily, said news that China had consulted on the text of a memorandum of understanding “shows the two sides have made unprecedented progress.”
“The MOU and next week’s talks both show that the seemingly endless China-US trade negotiations, like a marathon, are making a final sprint,” it said.
The newspapers cautioned that any agreement would have to be in the interests of both the United States and China.
“There are still obstacles to be overcome, and no one should underestimate how daunting a task the two sides face trying to resolve all the differences that have long existed between them in one clean sweep,” the official English-language China Daily said in an editorial.