UK and EU officials convene for first round of trade deal talks

UK and EU officials will begin the first round of negotiations towards reaching a trade agreement today. This round will

eu uk trade talks

Photo: AP/Francisco Seco

UK and EU officials will begin the first round of negotiations towards reaching a trade agreement today.

This round will discuss the exchange of goods and services, energy, transportation and fisheries in the wake of the UK’s departure from the EU on January 31.

Although fishing only accounts for about 1% of the UK’s GDP, the more valuable fishing waters are in the UK’s economic zone. For the EU, fishing is a vital industry in many coastal societies and employs about 180,000 people.

Also overshadowing today’s negotiations is the UK’s threat to abandon talks in favour of applying World Trade Organisation rules if the ‘broad outline’ of a free trade agreement is not reached by June. Resistant to the UK’s ambitious timeline, the EU believes that an exit without a free trade agreement would be more harmful for the UK than the EU. The EU accounted for 49% of the UK’s trade in 2018.

Given that there are other areas of trade where the UK strongly relies on the EU, expect London to compromise on fishing and for negotiations to continue even if the UK’s June deadline is not met.

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