Government issues plans on global free trade

Government Issues plans on global free trade

ARTICLE · By David Hopkins  · 10 Feb 2020

The Department for International Trade issued a statement last week on their plans for striking free trade agreements (FTA) with partners across the globe. The full statement can be found here.

The statement lays out several key points including:

  • The UK aims to secure FTAs with countries covering 80% of UK trade within the next three years
  • This will start with attempts at bilateral FTA with USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. This could also be a potential stepping stone to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership.

 

Members have contacted the TTF asking what effect this will have on timber trade to the UK. The short answer is: very little!

The UK already has free trade agreements with countries covering well over 80% of our trade via our membership of the EU. In effect, the Govt is simply trying to maintain the influence and trade regime that it already has.

The countries mentioned in the statement export very little timber to the UK. In total, European countries supply 87% of all wood and wood products imported into the UK.

Due to geographical proximity and long term business ties, it is unlikely that this pattern of trade will change anytime soon.

However, if the UK does focus on other regions of the world and, in turn, diverges from the regulatory alignment with the EU, then this will have a potentially damaging effect on importers and the merchant sector which relies on just-in-time delivery on site. Any change in regime will also require a change – or increase – in administrative capacity and time.

So, while the TTF wishes the Government well in these efforts, we are more interested in seeing the detail of the negotiations for future trade relations with the EU.

For more information of what the UK timber industry will look like in a Brexit world, sign up to the UK Softwood Conference on Wednesday 4 March.

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