The Future of UK International Trade Relations Post-Brexit: Options and Constraints
DCU Brexit Institute - Working Paper N. 4-2019
25 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2019 Last revised: 15 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 27, 2019
This paper explores the future EU-UK post-Brexit trade relations as they can be prefigured on the eve of the UK Parliament third final vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. In its first part, the paper provides a critical evaluation of the Article 50 TEU framework of EU-UK future trade relationship as it emerges by the stand taken by the parties during the negotiations and in the final acts. In its second part, the paper focuses on WTO constraints to the UK post-Brexit international trade with third countries, including those with which the EU has currently trade agreements in place, which will become inapplicable to the UK upon its exit from the EU.
The authors point out that it is the Irish backstop - the most sensitive political issue which is conditioning the whole phase of approval of the treaty in the UK – which is also the stumbling block to the ability of the UK post-Brexit to conduct an independent trade policy as sought by the Brexiters, since it implies the UK remaining bound by a custom union to the EU for an indefinite period.
In the light of their analysis the authors suggest an alternative solution, that of an “All-Ireland Common No-Custom Area” where products originating in Ulster and the Republic of Ireland would freely circulate in the island, based upon the “frontier traffic” exception of Art. XXIV.3(a) of the GATT.
Keywords: Backstop, Brexit, European Union, Northern Ireland, World Trade Organization
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation