September 22nd 2019
The government has taken FedEE’s advice and is actively exploring the making of Northern Ireland into a semi-autonomous special economic (free trade) zone. There are also reports that a common trading zone with the Republic of Ireland may be established for agriculture and food processing.
If Northern Ireland did become one big “free port” It would be very difficult for the EU to treat any goods passing through it as from a UK source. That is why the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has warned about the dangers to the EU of having a heavily deregulated Britain on its borders with the competitive potential to undermine trade in EU-manufactured goods.
International Trade After Brexit
If the UK crashes out of the EU on October 31st, or January 31st, what will it mean for UK international trade? The answer is that it could mean very little. Last July the UK circulated to all World Trade Organisation states (which consist of most countries in the world) its own schedule of goods tariffs and concessions. This was basically a cut and paste from the joint schedule it shares with the EU until Brexit. Several countries objected to the schedule – which means that the whole thing is blocked until the objections can be resolved. But this is not the tragedy it appears, as the UK can continue trading under an “uncertified schedule” until everything is sorted out.