Britain and EU formally start splitting WTO membership agreements

By Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - Britain and the European Union formally filed for divorce at the World Trade Organization on Tuesday, following many months of diplomatic preparations to smooth the way for the historic move. The WTO circulated two confidential draft membership agreements among the Geneva trade club's 164 members, separating Britain's rights and obligations in merchandise trade from the EU's for the first time in the WTO's 23-year history. A separate split of services trade is expected to follow

Reuters July 25, 2018 00:05:40 IST
Britain and EU formally start splitting WTO membership agreements

Britain and EU formally start splitting WTO membership agreements

By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - Britain and the European Union formally filed for divorce at the World Trade Organization on Tuesday, following many months of diplomatic preparations to smooth the way for the historic move.

The WTO circulated two confidential draft membership agreements among the Geneva trade club's 164 members, separating Britain's rights and obligations in merchandise trade from the EU's for the first time in the WTO's 23-year history. A separate split of services trade is expected to follow.

"It seeks to replicate the concessions and commitments applicable to the UK as part of the EU today. An important milestone as we prepare for our departure from the EU," British Ambassador Julian Braithwaite wrote in a tweet.

Britain's draft document, officially known as its "schedule", is 719 pages long.

"WTO members will have three months to review the schedule, which will be considered to be approved if there are no objections from other members," the WTO said in a statement.

Until now the EU has represented Britain at the WTO, and Britain's membership rights were not set out distinctly, even though Britain was always a WTO member in its own right. Its June 2016 decision to leave the EU meant disentangling their trade rules to allow Britain to act independently.

Britain's government says that only minimal changes will be needed in the text and it does not expect any difficulties, apart from potentially in agriculture.

Seven agricultural suppliers - including the United States, Canada and Australia - have already said they disapprove of the terms of the divorce, since they will lose flexibility to switch exports between Britain and the rest of the EU.

Their objections are likely to force Britain into a wider negotiation, said David Henig, a former British trade official who now leads the UK Trade Policy Project at the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE).

"As the UK's first serious trade negotiation in years, many will be watching to see how the UK government performs in negotiating at the WTO, and how they handle the debate domestically," he wrote in a report.

"At this stage we see a stuttering start, but this could ironically be the opportunity needed to get on the right track and set a positive path for our future trade policy."

Britain has been laying the groundwork for this step for more than a year, and it sent an informal proposal in October, followed by a proposal for services trade in February.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Ros Russell)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts
Business

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts

By Jessica Resnick-Ault NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices strengthened on Wednesday, as OPEC and its allies were seen complying with a pact to cut oil supply in September, even as concerns loomed that recovery in fuel demand will be stalled by soaring global coronavirus cases. Early in the day crude was boosted by a bullish stock market. Even as equities whipsawed on pandemic worries, oil stayed higher, buoyed by expectations that OPEC could staunch a supply glut

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000
Business

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000

By Tina Bellon and C Nivedita (Reuters) - Tesla Inc will further cut the price of its Model S "Long Range" sedan in the United States to $69,420, the electric carmaker's chief executive, Elon Musk, announced in a tweet https://bit.ly/2H0JCP0 on Wednesday. The anticipated drop marks the second time this week Tesla has cut the price for the high-end sedan, following a 4% cut of the Model S's price in the United States on Tuesday to $71,990.

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen
World

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen

By Jeff Mason DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Under siege over his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump on Wednesday cited what he said was his son's mild bout of the virus as a reason why American schools should reopen as soon as possible. Trump made the comment about his son, Barron, as the president swept into Iowa on a mission to shore up support in battleground states that he won in 2016 but is in danger of losing to Democrat Joe Biden barely three weeks before the election. First lady Melania Trump announced in a statement earlier in the day that the virus that struck both her and her husband had also infected their 14-year-old son