BRITAIN’s attempts to roll-over the EU’s trade deal with Pacific countries have been delayed due to demands to ditch human rights protections, The Sun can reveal.
Fiji objected to continuing the current trading arrangements after Brexit because they wanted the EU’s strict human rights standards stripped out.
The island nation is the first known country to extract the concession in trade negotiations.
And it comes after Trade Secretary Liam Fox admitted human rights had become a sticking point delaying the talks to roll-over some of the EU’s 40 free trade deals.
A secret progress report leaked to The Sun earlier this week revealed that just six of the trade deals are on course to be ready in time for Brexit Day on March 29.
Mr Fox has refused to water down the human rights protections, which ban the trade of any goods made through child labour, forced labour or factories where collective bargaining is barred.
Other examples of human rights violations that EU trade deals ban include torture and execution equipment.
They also bar trade with countries that undermine democratic, civil and political rights such as the freedom of speech, freedom to protest.
Fiji’s objections stalled the negotiations over rolling-over the EU-Pacific trade deal, which also includes Papua New Guinea and will soon be joined by Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
But the Department for International Trade has said Fiji’s objections had now been overcome and the terms of the UK-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) have been agreed, with a deal expected to be signed “in the coming weeks”.
A spokesman said the deal will “include the same commitments to human rights and democracy as our existing EU agreement”.
Yesterday Mr Fox said fears of a no deal Brexit have also deterred countries such as South Korea agreeing to roll-over the current EU trading arrangements.
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The trade deal with South Korea – a major trading partner for Britain – is among nine that have been given an amber warning – meaning talks are currently “off-track”.
Red and black warnings are given to 23 other EU deals, including big trading partners Japan, Turkey and Mexico, which are given no chance of being completed by Brexit Day.
They are classed either “significantly off-track” or “not possible to be completed by March 2019”.
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