The Fairtrade Foundation has welcomed the UK government’s decision to put in place a ‘transitional protection measure’ to ensure that developing countries do not lose their UK market access in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
A number of countries including Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire, Cameroon and Kenya, have not yet signed ‘roll-over’ deals or agreed future trade arrangements with the UK, thus running the risk that duty-free access granted through existing EU measures, could be lost after October 31st. However the UK government confirmed yesterday to the UK parliament’s International Trade Committee that the UK would seek to protect existing market access arrangements for an 18-month period in the event of no-deal. Without this measure, a range of goods including bananas and cocoa paste could have faced new import tariffs with a negative impact for developing country farmers and workers who rely on trade with the UK for their livelihoods.
Commenting on the announcement, Tim Aldred, Head of Policy at the Fairtrade Foundation said: 'A no-deal Brexit poses a number of risks for Fairtrade farmers including the possibility of new import tariffs. The Fairtrade Foundation has been calling for this kind of measure which would unilaterally guarantee market access for developing countries in the event of no-deal. We are glad that the government has now proposed this temporary measure, albeit with very short notice. Trade arrangements after Brexit continue to present serious uncertainties for Fairtrade farmers, and it is our hope that a longer term solution will also be found which maximises the potential of UK trade to support poverty reduction, environmental protection and human rights. This will need to include a long term review of unilateral preferences and the UK’s replacement for the controversial Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).'