EU pandemonium as countries ‘line up’ to strike Brexit-like trade deal | Politics | New


Britain and the EU struck a post-Brexit trade deal in December last year – after nearly nine months of tough negotiations. Announced on Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “giant Canadian-style” deal and said: “All of our red lines regarding the return of sovereignty have been respected. “Everything the British public promised in the 2016 referendum and in last year’s general election is delivered by this deal.”

The deal is undoubtedly a huge triumph for the Prime Minister, who in 2019 won an overwhelming majority in the general election with the promise to “make Brexit happen”.

This new partnership could, however, pose problems for the EU.

In an exclusive interview with, historian and head of an Icelandic free market think tank Hjörtur J. Guðmundsson insisted that many countries, including those in the European Economic Area (EEA), will want to enter into a similar agreement with the block.

He said: “In Norway you now have political parties calling on Norway to reconsider its membership in the EEA.

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

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

“They’re lining up for this.

“They are not lining up for an EEA-like deal.”

Government trade adviser Shanker Singham echoed Mr Guðmundsson’s claims in another interview with, saying the Brexit deal is better than what the Swiss have with the bloc.

Mr Singham, CEO of economic consultancy Competere, said: “No one in the world has struck a quota-free, tariff-free deal with the EU.

“We are the only country to have this.

“Getting a quota-free and tariff-free agreement with the EU is very, very unusual.

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He added: “Frankly, it’s a better deal than what the Swiss have with the EU.

“If I were Switzerland, I would like a similar deal.

“And in fact, if I were Switzerland, Turkey or even one of the Mediterranean countries like Morocco, I would go for this specific type of agreement.”

Switzerland is not an EU member state.

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

All but one of Switzerland’s neighboring countries – the micro-state of Liechtenstein – are EU member states.

It took Bern 17 years to reach a unique bilateral trade deal, which would be nowhere near as complex as the one negotiated by Mr Johnson.

Mr Singham added that settling disputes under the Brexit deal would be a “great advantage for world trade”.

If one of the parties deviates from the common standards and this has a negative impact on the other party, a dispute settlement mechanism may be triggered, which could result in the imposition of tariffs.

However, it will revolve around a ‘rebalancing’ clause, which gives the EU and UK the right to take action in the event of significant discrepancies. This clause is much stricter than measures found in other recent EU trade agreements.

Mr Singham said: “Passing on a properly applied rebalancing clause will be of great benefit to world trade.

“If it is used as a tool to reduce market distortion, I think there would be an appetite within the World Trade Organization (WTO) for it … provided it is linked to a agreement without tariff and without quota. “

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