Economy

Boris Johnson, Michel Barnier talk tough on trade

Boris Johnson, Michel Barnier talk tough on trade”

Warning that companies might need to reboot no-deal Brexit planning if there was less chance of a trade agreement being struck by the end of 2020, when the UK's Brexit transition period ends, he said: "The UK can't just stick to red lines; it needs to set out positive, practical steps to what it wants".

Trade talks between Britain and the European Union are due to begin in March and the bloc's own approach to the negotiations needs to be agreed by all 27 member states.

Boris Johnson is to set out his vision for a trade deal with the European Union, saying there is "no need" for the United Kingdom to follow Brussels' rules.

Mr. Johnson gave a passionate defence of free trade, comparing Britain to Clark Kent, ready to "leap into the phone booth and emerge with his cloak flowing as the supercharged champion of the right of the populations of the Earth to buy and sell freely among each other". If the combative exchanges on Monday are any indication, those discussions will be hard fought and acrimonious. Free-trade agreements typically take years.

"Agreement on fisheries will be inextricably linked to the trade agreement".

"If we can not manage by the end of the year, there will be a widespread cliff", he said.

"You can not accuse us of a lack of ambition", he told a news conference in Brussels.

Barnier said fisheries and fair trade would be his top priorities in the talks, with a special focus on denying Britain "unfair competitive advantages".

He pointedly avoided mention of "Brexit", aware of widespread public exhaustion with the subject - even going so far as to describe it as a term from history.

"The question is whether we agree to a trading relationship like Canada, or like Australia". Though of limited economic significance, fishing is symbolically and emotionally important both in Britain and in continental Europe.

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Shortly before Johnson spoke, the European Union set out its draft negotiating mandate, calling for "reciprocal access" for fishing vessels, and stating that a free trade area with no tariffs or quotas was contingent on a "level playing field ... ensured through robust commitments".

If the British request is "for access to 450 million consumers, zero tariffs. zero quotas, that won't happen for nothing and without conditions", Mr. Barnier told reporters in Brussels. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use.

Britain is aiming for a "Canada-style" free trade agreement with the European Union, which would eliminate nearly all tariffs and cover both goods and services.

The EU is looking for "specific and effective guarantees on level playing field over the long term", meaning upholding high standards on social, environmental, climate, tax, and state aid rules and their future changes.

The pound fell by 1.95 cents to $1.3005, losing 1.5 percent against the dollar - the largest drop since 17 December, and 1.2 percent against the euro - down 1.4 cents to €1.1757. The next 11 months are likely to see intense negotiations on every aspect of the separation deal.

John Allan, 71, president of the CBI, warned that "talk of a bare bones deal could pause investment".

"The choice is emphatically not 'deal or no-deal, '" Johnson said in a speech to business leaders and worldwide diplomats at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich on Monday.

Stephen Castle reported from London and Matina Stevis-Gridneff reported from Brussels.

"At best it removes tariffs and quotas", he said.



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