Fewer than half of Britain’s deals with non-EU countries will have been rolled over by the country’s scheduled date of departure from the European bloc, the UK government has said.
The Department of Exiting the European Union said that it had identified 161 agreements with non-EU countries — including trade and aviation deals — that would need to be updated after Brexit.
Of those, 64 are certain or highly likely to be replicated by March 29 or shortly after, 64 may or may not be, and 33 definitely won’t be.
The numbers are the most definitive guide yet on third-country agreements after Brexit. With 22 days to go to the scheduled date of Brexit, the UK government is also launching an online tracker to update businesses on the status of international agreements.
The agreements that won’t be rolled over by March 29 include trade agreements with Japan and Turkey. Liam Fox, the UK international trade secretary, once promised that all agreements would be ready “one second after midnight in March 2019”.
The agreements that have been rolled over include a trade deal with Switzerland, civil nuclear co-operation agreement with countries including Japan, and aviation agreements allowing planes to fly to third countries.
The UK argues that agreements do not need to be rolled over immediately if MPs back the draft withdrawal agreement, which includes a two-year standstill transition period.
In that scenario, the EU has notified third countries that they should continue to treat the UK as if it were a EU member state, although it is possible that some third countries will object to this.
MPs are due to vote on Tuesday on whether to back the withdrawal agreement. If they do not, they will be given the chance to vote to request an extension of Article 50, the EU’s formal exit process.
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