Brexit is continuing to establish levels of uncertainties in the wake of the referendum, this time in the implications of international treaties. FT reported at the end of October that the government has only been able to “roll over” 14 out of the 236 international treaties the EU has agreed with other countries. This fact has caused another level of doubt about the fallout of Brexit should a deal not be realised after all. With five months to go until the March deadline, the UK is rushing to establish duplicated agreements with the 168 countries the EU has international treaties with; establishing such arrangements will allow Britain to preserve its current rights.

Last month, however, saw Whitehall officials gain data that indicated only a small percentage of treaties had been successfully replicated into so-called mini-arrangements with applicable countries. By March, Britain will need to have established at least 40 free trade agreements with countries like Canada and Japan to avoid major disruptions in trade. The other international treaties include over essential elements of the supply chain, such as airline and landing rights and financial services.

No Deal Conclusion

If Britain can agree on a withdrawal deal with EU negotiators, or at least a transition period after March, it should create more time to get these treaties in place. Whitehall officials have discussed what would happen should a no-deal materialise in a meeting at the end of October with no clear conclusion. The latest news about failures to implement similar treaty agreements is only reflective of the government’s struggle to prepare for Brexit. The National Audit Office– the watchdog for parliament spend – announced that 10 out of the 12 projects needed to guarantee a functioning UK border might not even be delivered on time. The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has announced that charter ships could bring necessary food and medicine supplies should the UK need more time to arrange trading deals. Of course, this doesn’t establish any further clarity for businesses who rely on overseas suppliers.

The worry is that these deals may be seen as opportunities for other countries to get more out of the UK than what has been established in the original EU treaties, as well as influenced by how the UK and EU relationship develops over the last part of negotiations.

Downing Street Statement

Downing Street released the following official statement: “We are working closely with partners to replace the agreements in the event of no deal.”

Whilst a spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the EU said they were “confident…regardless of the circumstances of our departure, we will be well positioned to make a success of Brexit.

“Extension work to ensure continuity of our agreements has been underway for almost two years, and we are engaging with our international partners to deliver this in the unlikely event of no deal.”

How ERA Can Help

Regardless of the development of treaty talks, it’s crucial for businesses to streamline their supply systems ready for Brexit. The time and management needed to establish a healthy and robust supply network means that if you have not already reviewed your suppliers, you should do so now. Get in touch with our specialists who will take a holistic approach to evaluating your supply chains and devising the best cost reduction strategies for you to follow.