UK Trade Minister Fox to Use Davos Trip to Discuss Replicating EU Agreements

LONDON (Reuters) -
Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox arrives at Downing Street in London, January 22, 2019. (Reuters/Toby Melville)

British trade minister Liam Fox will use a two-day trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos to meet trade ministers from around the world to discuss rolling over existing EU trade agreements after Britain leaves the bloc, his office said.

With little time left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29, there is no agreement in London on how and even whether it should leave the world’s biggest trading bloc, and a growing chance of a “no-deal” exit with no provisions to soften the economic shock.

Fox has said he hopes to replicate around 40 EU free trade agreements with third countries by the time Britain leaves the bloc but the Financial Times reported last week that none would be ready by the end of March.

The British government has since signed agreements with Australia and New Zealand.

“I will be meeting with my counterparts in key countries as we look to finalize continuity trade agreements to ensure our exporters do not face disruption as we prepare to leave to the EU,” Fox said in a statement ahead of his visit.

His department said this would include ministers from South Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, Colombia and Israel. He will also meet investors and host a round table of global chief executives.

The department also said that telecoms firm BT would announce this week that it has been granted new domestic licenses to operate in China following talks between the British and Chinese governments.

“With my international economic department already working on our independent trade policy after Brexit, we will be able to place the UK firmly at the heart of the world’s fastest growing regions,” Fox said.