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EU import duties on UK exports looming large

Arnoud Willems, International Trade partner at the law firm Sidley Austin, comments on the impact of the Leave vote on trade treaties and UK exports…

“While nothing is going to change overnight, if UK companies relying on exports haven’t started the planning process for a post-Brexit then they need to right now. Import duties on goods coming from the UK could be introduced within two years and so companies need to start thinking about negotiating a longer transitional settlement. 

“In terms of trade deals, the UK is now in a position to negotiate better deals, more tailored for its market. However, it is difficult to see how one country on its own will have better bargaining power than the EU bloc. And there will be some very difficult issues for the UK to tackle, for instance the EU-imposed sanctions on Russia and the anti-dumping measures on competitive imports from countries such as China, which have been created to protect certain industries such as steel. 
“The wider political uncertainty created by the UK’s decision to leave could have ramification on EU trade deals. Negotiators will start to think about whether another country will start its own referendum process or if, over time, we could be left with separate North, East and Southern Europe Unions.

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