UK signs raft of trade continuity agreements

The UK has signed trade continuity agreements with Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Norway and Iceland.

In the case of Norway, 95% of goods traded will remain tariff-free, and over 90% with Iceland. The interim agreement will be in place until the UK and EEA-EFTA countries complete negotiations for a comprehensive FTA in 2021. It ensures that British firms will continue to see duty free access for all exports of industrial products.

UK trade with Iceland and Norway was worth £27bn last year, with over £20bn of this in goods. Without this agreement, duties on UK imports from Iceland and Norway could have increased by an estimated £65m under World Trade Organisation trading arrangements.

Deals with Singapore and Vietnam will deepen relationships in the Indo-Pacific region, bringing the UK a step closer to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a high-standards agreement of 11 Pacific nations.

In addition, the UK has also agreed a number of measures with the EEA EFTA states to ensure trade in services can continue as smoothly as possible ahead of a comprehensive trade agreement coming into force in 2021.

These measures include:

• Professionals who are resident or are frontier workers in the UK, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, will continue to have their qualifications recognised. In the UK, they can also continue to apply for recognition for a short period after the transition period ends.

• The rights of EEA EFTA nationals/citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EEA EFTA states will be protected.

• The UK has legislated so that personal data for general processing can flow freely from the UK to the EEA states after the end of the transition period.

• Businesses in Norway can continue employing UK nationals as directors.

• The UK is working with Norway and Iceland to conclude Air Service Agreements to provide for the legal basis for air services to continue between the UK and Norway/Iceland.

Separately, the UK has also set out an independent approach to the longstanding trade conflicts between the EU and US around steel, aluminium and aerospace tariffs.

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