June May See Talks On UK's FTAs With EU, US, Turkey

))U`TB8%ZL3EJR20FB_%UVX

A high-level meeting between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) is likely in late June to unlock the next round of discussions on a UK-EU free trade agreement (FTA), according to the UK Fashion and Textile Association. The UK government has said initial discussions on FTAs with Australia, New Zealand and Turkey will start by the middle of June.

At the UK-EU meeting, neither side is expected to ask for an extension to the transition period, and therefore, the possibility of the United Kingdom leaving the EU’s Customs Union on December 31 this year without a deal is still quite a possibility, UKFT said in an update. The third round of meetings recently concluded.

The start of talks with Turkey is especially important for the clothing and textile sector as Turkey provides close to £2 billion of duty-free fashion and textiles to the United Kingdom every year. UKFT has been lobbying the government over the importance of maintaining duty free access to Turkey since 2016 and will ensure the sectors demands are regularly fed into the UK’s negotiating team, it said.

Official discussions with the United States on an FTA also started this month. However, negotiations are expected to take a considerable time and differences over rules of origin for fashion and textile products is expected to be a particular source of contention, the association noted.

Following a consultation earlier in the year, the UK government is set to publish the new UK external tariff regime next month. The tariff regime will apply to all goods coming into the United Kingdom from countries with which the country does not have trade agreements.

UKFT submitted very detailed information to the government on the proposed regime including the absolute need for the new tariff schedule to provide support to UK manufactures. Details on the tariff regime will be published by UKFT as soon as they become available.

Japan is the United Kingdom’s third most important market for fashion and textiles and UKFT has been consistently lobbying the government to deliver an FTA with Japan. The UK government will begin negotiations on a UK-Japan FTA next week.