UK tables post-Brexit trade proposals

The UK has set out proposals to ensure that goods and services currently approved for sale across the UK and EU can continue to be traded after Brexit.

The plans published by Brexit Secretary David Davis were welcomed by business leaders as an improvement on EU proposals which would require separate regulatory processes on either side of the English Channel from the day after UK withdrawal.

Mr Davis said the UK was now ready to begin a “formal dialogue” on elements of the future UK-EU trade relationship, such as customs.

However, Brussels has indicated it will continue to resist UK pressure to bring forward trade talks, saying they must wait until after sufficient progress has been made on the divorce deal — something which one EU leader said could drag on beyond the autumn.

However, Downing St said it remained confident of making enough progress on the issues of citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and borders for the European Council to give the green light to the second phase of Brexit negotiations when it meets in Brussels in October.

Mr Davis’s new position paper comes ahead of the third round of formal negotiations in the Belgian capital next week and is expected to be followed in the coming days by further documents on issues like post-Brexit judicial co-operation, dispute resolution, and data protection.

Meanwhile, the UK’s current account deficit, the largest of any major economy last year, was even bigger in 2015 than previously thought, according to new estimates from the country’s Office for National Statistics. The current account deficit has been in the spotlight since last year’s Brexit vote, and although it has narrowed recently, it is not far off levels that would trigger a currency crisis in a less developed economy.

The statistics office said yesterday it now estimated the current account deficit was £98bn (€107bn) in 2015, equivalent to 5.2% of GDP, compared with its previous estimate of £80bn or 4.3% of GDP.

Separate figures show the squeeze on British households’ financial situation has eased this month as slowing inflation and greater job security improved conditions from a three-year low recorded in July.

IHS Markit said its monthly household finance index rose to 43.5 from a three-year low of 41.6 seen in July.

Both figures are well above the survey’s average reading of 40.4 since it began during the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, but are below the 50 mark that would indicate households felt richer.

PA and Reuters


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