While Joe Biden seemingly closes the door on any trade-deal for the time being, there is hope that EU trade negotiations are making some progress, but time is fast running out.
The UK has been prioritising a US trade deal, which looked promising with the administration of Donald Trump, a fierce opponent of the European Union, but president-elect Biden has said that his priorities will be to improve investment in US manufacturing and the protection of American workers.
“I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers and in education,” he said.
In what could be a critical development yesterday (Wednesday) Boris Johnson has lowered his Brexit demands on the critical fishing-rights issue, Michel Barnier told the bloc’s capitals ahead of what he said would be a crucial 48 hours.
In briefings to EU ambassadors and MEPs in Brussels, the bloc’s chief negotiator said Downing Street had revised its demand, but it is unclear whether the divide could be bridged in the time remaining.
Common ground on the fishing issue is slowly being found, with the UK offering greater flexibility in recent days over a mechanism to ensure neither side can gain a competitive advantage by deregulating over time, but issues remain around domestic enforcement and dispute resolution.
Meanwhile, the government has denied claims it is seeking to delay implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol in the withdrawal agreement, including the new customs checks on goods entering from Britain, due to the difficulty in preparing for the end of the transition period.
HMRC officials told MPs they “did not recognise” reports overnight about a deal to phase in controls. They did say there would be “light-touch” operation and some “grace” shown to businesses who were not ready.
It has emerged in a Commons committee hearing that British businesses will have to complete 11m customs declarations forms a year to sell their goods in Northern Ireland for the first time.
Customs declarations must be made as part of the Northern Ireland protocol from 1st January but a key software system (the goods vehicle movement service) will not go into “end to end” testing with businesses until 14th December.
We have developed a suite of bespoke and automated solutions to protect our shippers EU trade from the 1st January 2021, including our innovative CuDoS platform, which automates and digitises customs submissions for the swiftest and most accurate declarations.
For further information contact our post-Brexit Task Team and speak with Andrew White or Jade Barrow.