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2nd July 2024

Trading internationally: taking Wales to the world

As a nation Wales exports billions of pounds worth of goods internationally each year. The pandemic, global conflicts and Brexit changes have created challenges within the global trade landscape over the last few years, but many businesses are continuing to export their products and import other goods and services to key markets around the world.

Paul Butterworth, CEO of Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:

“Wales has so much variety of products and services to offer the world. Firms of all sizes and all sectors in Wales crave certainty on which to base their investment plans and growth strategies, and international trade can play a hugely important role in this.

“Europe remains a key trading partner to many businesses here in Wales and as Shevaun Haviland highlighted in her keynote address to the British Chambers of Commerce’s global conference, the next government needs to stop treading on eggshells around trade with the EU to support our business leaders and entrepreneurs. Improved trade terms could be agreed and it is important that these negotiations take place swiftly once the new government is in office.”

Here, we provide a round up of the trade agreements in place and in progress to help businesses understand how they can take Wales to the world:

Trade agreements in effect

The UK has over 70 trade agreements and continuity agreements in place which have been negotiated and ratified.

These include free trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, a trade and cooperation agreement with the European Union (which covers all trade with the EU), a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Japan and a digital economy agreement with Singapore.

Trade agreements in progress

There are a few trade agreements where negotiations have been completed but the agreements are being scrutinised and ratified by parliaments before the official legislation is passed.

The UK is edging closer to officially joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade agreement which currently is between 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The UK took a significant step in May this year by ratifying the deal and once ratification has been completed by other members of the CPTPP, this agreement could be live as soon as the autumn.

Other trade agreements in progress include:

  • A digital trade agreement with Ukraine – Expanding upon an existing free trade agreement, the new legislation would cover closer collaboration on cybersecurity and guaranteed tariff free flow of digital content and trusted data.
  • An economic partnership agreement with eastern and southern Africa – This agreement would facilitate trade with Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe.

Trade agreements in negotiation and consultation

Consultations determine which aspects of current trade agreements could be improved and then feed into negotiations for new or updated agreements.

In 2023 and 2024, consultations were held with the Republic of Maldives and the Republic of Türkiye. The UK is seeking a goods only free trade agreement with the Maldives, while it is looking to build upon an existing trade agreement with Türkiye, an ‘Emerging 7’ country.

From 2022, the UK had been negotiating with the following countries to draw up new or updated agreements: Canada, Gulf Cooperation Council (a bloc including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates), India, Israel, Mexico, Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Switzerland.

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