Trading Places: The New Trade Deals

A series of trade deals have further defined the UK’s place in the global trading landscape. 

The UK’s position in the post-Brexit world continues to take shape: the last few weeks have seen a series of announcements on prospects for new trade deals.  

In May, the UK government announced the commencement of discussions with Mexico on a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Billed as “An opportunity to deliver an agreement which strengthens trade in goods and services, increases investment flows, and promotes digital and cross-border trade,” the UK’s trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan confirmed that the first official round of negotiations would take place in Mexico City this July, with a second round in the autumn. 

“We want the new FTA to deliver on progressive issues such as trade and gender equality and innovation,” said Trevelyan.

“Lastly, we recognise the importance of an agreement which supports businesses in both countries to access and make best use of existing and new global supply chains.” 

That news was followed by the announcement that the UK and Vietnam had held their first Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) in three years, following the formal adoption of an FTA in 2020. According to official figures, trade between the two countries by almost 11% from 2020, when the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement was signed, and 2021.  

“This agreement eliminates 99% of all tariffs and helps forge a deeper relationship with a country who shares our belief in free trade,” the UK’s Minister of State for Trade Policy, Penny Mordaunt said. The deal further demonstrates that the UK is increasingly turning its focus away from European trade and aiming to attract investment and trade from Asia Pacific and the Commonwealth.  

That was further confirmed by the news that UK Export Finance has signed a cooperation agreement with the Saudi Arabian export credit agency, Saudi Export-Import Bank. The agreement marks an important step towards further trade integration with one of the leading economies in the Middle East.  

Heralding the deal, UK Export Finance CEO Louis Taylor said, ‘This partnership is a major boost to our trading relationship and to businesses in both countries. By working with other export credit agencies from around the world we can open doors to suppliers from other countries to contribute to international projects, making the projects even better and our offer even more attractive to overseas buyers.’ 

The government says that UKEF can now support the export of products from Saudi Arabia through its collaboration with Saudi Exim where a transaction also involves substantial trading opportunities for UK exporters in third countries. 

Export credit agencies offer loans, loan guarantees and insurance to help domestic companies limit the risk of selling goods and services in overseas markets.