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Mythbust

UK couldn’t keep most EU trade deals post Brexit

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 07.04.2016

Myth: UK could keep the trade deals the EU has cut with 50 plus countries in the rest of the world post Brexit

InFact: The EU has made free trade deals with more than 50 other countries, including many from the Commonwealth. But the UK is not legally a party to all of them, and we would have no automatic right to piggyback on them if we left. Starting negotiations from scratch could take years.

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Where the UK is a party, we wouldn’t necessarily benefit from the trade sections of the agreements. Each provision in each such agreement would have to be scrutinised to see how it applies to a post-Brexit Britain. In most cases, we won’t be able to take the benefits.

In the meantime, exporters and importers would suffer. Brexiteers also blithely suggest it would be easy to cut new trade and investment deals with the likes of the United States, China, Japan and India. But the EU is already negotiating agreements with all those countries. If we quit, we’d have to play catch-up and we’d lack the clout to get deals as good.

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This article is an adaptation of a piece that previously appeared on InFacts.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

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