Following the passing of the Withdrawal Bill in the House of Commons earlier this month, the UK is preparing to renegotiate free trade deals with a number of countries after it leaves the EU on 31 January.
In a Brexit update report, External Relations Minister Ian Gorst says that the government’s Brexit team will need to continue work to secure Jersey’s interests as this happens.
The report adds that the recent extension of the UK’s membership of the World Trade Organisation to the Island would allow it to trade more freely internationally post-Brexit.
‘Analysis and scoping work is under way to assess how Jersey will input into the future partnership discussions, principally the UK-EU free trade agreement negotiations, which are set to start in earnest in the new year,’ he said.
‘And colleagues have been continuing their work looking beyond Brexit, securing extension of the UK’s membership of the World Trade Organisation and engaging with key interlocutors around the world through our global markets strategy.’
The report says that the trade deal between the UK and EU will be the ‘principal’ priority for Jersey but that new business links further afield will also be considered.
‘Related but distinct from the future UK-EU FTA is the work that the UK, and in parallel Jersey, is progressing to develop trade into third-country, or non-EU, markets,’ it says.
‘Once the UK leaves the EU, Jersey’s approach to external trade will need to continue to adapt, and that is why Jersey is building capacity and investing resources in this field.
‘For much of its history, Jersey has existed – and succeeded – outside formal trade structures. This has already changed significantly as a result of Brexit and will continue to do so, as the UK develops its future trade policy.’
The report adds that the results of the Brexit team’s ‘Let’s Talk Trade’ consultation are due to be published soon and will focus on the Island’s potential interests in both EU and third-country FTAs.
‘This work is expected to continue apace following the UK election, when the UK government is expected, alongside negotiations with the EU, to move quickly to progress free trade agreements with, amongst others, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and to consider accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,’ it says. ‘Jersey stands ready to engage positively and constructively in these negotiations and to ensure that our offensive and defensive positions are actively considered.’
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade agreement between Canada and ten other countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.