Operate after Brexit

Trade with third countries

Trade with third countries

EU free trade agreements that offered Scottish businesses preferential terms no longer apply. The UK has agreed continuity agreements with some countries, but not all, so in some cases the levels of coverage will now be different.

Free trade agreements

A Free Trade Agreement is an agreement between two or more parties intended to reduce (or eliminate) tariffs, quotas and other trade restrictions.

Where there is no such trade agreement, then trade is on the basis of World Trade Organisation (WTO) Most Favoured Nation tariff schedules. Losing the preferential tariff rates in a trade agreement could lead to increased duties on exports from and imports to the UK, incurring costs for exporters; increasing the price of imported products for consumers and potentially leading to a reduction in the choice of products available.

Existing UK trade agreements with non-EU countries

As of 1st January 2021, EU trade agreements no longer apply to the UK. The UK government has secured a number of new trade agreements which aim to replicate the benefits of the previous trade agreements and secure continuity of trading arrangements for Scottish Businesses.

Access the UK Government’s up-to-date list of the trade agreements in place https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-trade-agreements-with-non-eu-countries#trade-agreements-in-effect

Where the agreement has not yet been ratified, provisional application or bridging mechanisms have been put in place to ensure continuity of trade.

These agreements do not necessarily provide the same levels of coverage that Scottish businesses have benefited from as EU members. Businesses should consult UK Government guidance for further information on UK trade arrangements with non-EU countries.

For any countries that the UK does not establish a continuity deal with, that trade will revert to WTO 'Most Favoured Nation' terms.

Trade agreements still in discussion

There are still a number of countries with which the UK has not signed a trade agreement or continuity agreement. Access an up to date list of these countries here.

For these countries:

Mutual recognition agreement

A mutual recognition agreement (MRA) is one in which countries recognise one another’s conformity assessments. When conformity assessments are applied to products, they are tested to an established performance standard. Inspections, quality management, surveillance, accreditation and declarations of conformity also take place.

Access an up to date listexternal link which will open in a new window of the MRAs signed by the UK.

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