UK government looking at ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ post-Brexit scenarios

25 Jan 18

The Department for International Trade is looking at both ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ scenarios in the eight workstreams it is handling around the UK’s planned departure from the EU.

A report on DIT’s work by parliamentary spending watchdog the National Audit Office, released today, said the department was responsible for eight Brexit-related workstreams, with the Department for Exiting the EU dealing with the other 305.

Auditors said DIT’s workstream plans “prepare for two possible EU exit scenarios – a negotiated outcome with transition period and a ‘no deal’ outcome.

“Delivery of the workstreams will be challenging and DIT has put back some of its delivery milestones as the timetable for legislation and the overall negotiation process has moved on.”

The DIT had had to look overseas for trade negotiation expertise; it hired, for example, a ‘rules of origin’ expert from Australia and a chief trade negotiator from New Zealand.

Auditors noted some specialist skills, such as trade expertise, “have not been required in the UK civil service for more than 40 years”, but said the DIT was yet to “define the range of capabilities and level of capacity it will require to undertake its role in delivering an independent UK trade function”.

It will eventually base regional trade commissioners in: South Asia, China, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America.

At present, DIT has 3,745 staff with some based in any of 108 overseas nations.

Auditors examined how the DIT has spent its first year establishing itself and have not yet probed its value for money or efficiency.

DIT Brexit workstreams:

·       Post-EU membership of the World Trade Organization

·       WTO Government Procurement Agreement

·       EU free trade agreements and economic partnership agreements

·       Unilateral preferences

·       New free trade agreements

·       Trade remedies

·       Trade disputes

·       Export control regulation and policy.

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