Brexit may well mean Brexit, but it also means a possible problem for Britain with other members of the World Trade Organisation.
The Director General of the WTO, Roberto Azevedo, has warned that the UK’s future trading arrangements around the world will, to a great extent, depend on the terms of its separation from the European Union.
He told a business seminar in Oslo: “The other WTO members arguably could say, ‘I don’t like it. We should change this, or we should change that’.”
After Brexit the UK loses the trade rights it has as an EU member and will have to renegotiate deals with more than 50 countries, which promises to be a lengthy and uncertain process.
UK producers may have to pay higher tariffs as they export their goods to other countries, which is one of the reasons why the pound has slumped in value.
The head of the WTO has pointed out some of its member countries may not like the trade terms of the divorce settlement with Brussels: “That may have a positive impact on how the other WTO members view this or not.”
Azevedo stressed London should establish trade relations with others as quickly as possible: “I don’t think the global economy at this point in time can afford the luxury of more turbulence. The less turbulence we have the better. The quicker trade relations are established between the UK, the EU and other WTO members, the better.”