Brexit trade bonanza: UK's critical role in WTO overhaul after no deal exposed


    The latest round of negotiations between the EU and the UK broke up yesterday, with both sides citing “significant differences”. Brussels claimed it was still working “constructively” but suggested that Britain’s top negotiator David Frost had failed to make the necessary concessions. European Commission spokesman Daniel Farrie said: “The EU is acting constructively and in good faith, as Michel Barnier pointed out earlier this week.

    “We are working hard to overcome the significant divergences that remain between us.

    “Meetings will continue in Brussels next week and the next round of negotiations will take place in the week of July 20 in London.”

    Asked if there were positives from this week’s talks, Mr Farrie added: “My answer will be very, very short there. We are working towards an agreement.”

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been adamant that he will not allow the discussions to drag on into the autumn, arguing that British businesses and citizens need certainty on the way forward before then.

    This means that if the two sides are unable to reach a deal by the end of the current Brexit transition period, Britain will leave the single market and the customs union without any agreement on future access and will trade with the bloc on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.

    As the clock ticks down, Dr Stephen Woolcock, former consultant to the European Parliament, shed light on the WTO and revealed what Britain’s active role in the intergovernmental organisation might mean for the rest of the world.

    Speaking exclusively to, Dr Woolcock said: “There are long-standing difficulties and short-term ones in the WTO.

    “The long-standing difficulty is that no major progress has been made in the trade rules, which don’t keep up with the international economy.

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    “The last major trade round was a package put together to get a balance between the WTO members and it was concluded in 1995. The agreement was a few years before that.

    “A lot has happened since then. China has joined the WTO, we have a global supply change. And the internet has flourished.

    “The trade rules are lagging behind and that’s partly because of a more fragmented international economy.”

    Dr Woolcock added that in the past trade rules were mainly shaped by the US, the EU, Japan and Canada.

    However, now, developing countries like China, India, Brazil also want to have a say.

    He noted: “So the short story is that they haven’t been able to agree on very much for the past 25 years.”

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    However, Britain’s active role in the organisation might change this.

    Dr Woolcock: said: “In terms of trade, the UK will be a large economy.

    “However, when compared to the US, China and the EU, it doesn’t really call the shots.

    “What the UK can do is use its brilliant diplomatic skills.

    “If there is a standoff between the US and China, what the UK could do is hold the pen.

    “It could draft something both countries can agree on.

    “That’s the way the UK can contribute to solutions and solving problems in the WTO.”


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