European Union and United Kingdom engage with World Trade Organization members on certain issues arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU
The European Union and the United Kingdom today sent a joint letter to all members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), setting out their intended approach to certain WTO issues arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This letter is the result of a constructive dialogue that the EU has been engaging in with the UK over the past months, covering WTO issues such as trade in goods, services and government procurement. The dialogue, which is outlined in European Council guidelines and the Council’s negotiating directives, aims at ensuring that the UK honours its share of the international commitments it has contracted into in the WTO during its EU membership, and at organising an orderly withdrawal in this respect. Today’s joint letter marks the start of a cooperative and transparent engagement by the EU and the UK with all members of the WTO. When the UK leaves the EU, it will have its own separate schedules of commitments. Among other things, these schedules indicate the maximum tariff rates that can be applied to each specific type of imported product and the quantities of each product that can be imported duty-free or with a duty discount, known as tariff-rate quotas (TRQs). It is therefore necessary to address both the EU’s and the UK’s commitments regarding these quotas. Today’s joint letter states that both sides intend to follow a common approach regarding existing EU TRQs and intend to apportion these quotas to reflect current trade flows in order to ensure that, after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, WTO members maintain exactly the same level of access as they enjoy now. The EU and UK will also follow a common approach regarding the ceilings on domestic subsidies for agriculture. This is without prejudice to the position the EU might take on other trade-related matters.