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Talks on a post-Brexit barter accord amid the UK and the GCC are set to resume “soon” afterwards the adept crisis with Qatar put discussions on ice, a British abbot told The National.
“We’ll be affair afresh soon,” said Graham Stuart, abbot for investment, apropos to the barter alive accumulation amid Britain and the GCC that was set up to analyze a chargeless barter accord afterwards the UK leaves the European Union.
The alive accumulation was set up in December 2016, application the Singapore-GCC barter accord as a adjustment for a approaching relationship. And initially, it “made acceptable progress” according to Mr Stuart.
But talks adjourned afterwards the altercation amid Qatar and its Arab neighbours bankrupt out aftermost summer. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with the country on June 5 over Doha’s abutment for agitation and meddling in the centralized diplomacy of countries in the region.
The adept stand-off meant a high-profile UK-GCC acme in London aftermost year, which was hailed as the aboriginal GCC affair to be captivated alfresco the Gulf, never got off the ground.
There accept been apropos that Qatar’s abode in the GCC could be in agnosticism should the altercation worsen. For Britain, the ambiguity throws a spanner in the works as it seeks to assurance quick free-trade deals about the apple to atone for a abridgement in barter with the EU afterwards Brexit.
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The UK government has frequently championed the accent of British barter with the GCC, a accord that was account £30 billion in 2016.
No wonder, then, that the GCC is “near the top of our antecedence list” back it comes to post-Brexit trading opportunities according to Mr Stuart. “We aloof anticipate there are amazing opportunities activity forward.”
Looking accurately at the UAE, Mr Stuart said that barter amid the two nations stood at abutting to £15 billion in 2016. “I apperceive there’s the appetence to see that abound to £25 billion,” he said. “The aftermost ambition that was set for UK-UAE barter was baffled early.”
The abbot accent a cardinal of key areas in which British barter with the Emirates could be bound expanded.
“In acceding of the areas of befalling for us, you’ve got energy,” he said, pointing out the UAE’s advance in nuclear. “Education is already actual able and to be congenital on further… there’s banking services, acutely we assignment actual carefully calm there, healthcare, fintech… there’s a accomplished list.”
The antecedence for the British government, he said, is to ensure chain in barter afterwards Brexit, which he explained as “[replicating] as carefully as one can the accepted bearings and affective that over to a new one that creates no disadvantage on either side”.
“Then activity forward, we will attending at the advantages of whether we should be accomplishing article added agile, which is beneath than a abounding FTA [free barter agreement], or whether the actual avenue is the FTA.”
So what would be beneath than a abounding free-trade agreement? “It could be acrimonious a brace of areas area there are such aboveboard win-wins that you could calmly and bound achieve an arrangement,” Mr Stuart said. “All this becomes possible, of course, to alpha negotiating and absolutely acknowledging afterwards March abutting year [when the UK clearly leaves the EU], and the GCC will be abreast the top of our antecedence list, but as I say, the aboriginal affair to do is to ensure continuity.”
Britain’s adeptness to bang its own barter deals depends on whether or not it leaves the community union, a advancing affair in the Brexit debate.
The chiffonier is breach on the matter, with Brexiteers arguing that Prime Abbot Theresa May’s adopted advantage of a “customs partnership” – in which the UK collects tariffs on account of the EU – would accomplish it absurd for Britain to accomplish barter deals with non-EU countries.
Others accept proposed a band-aid accepted as “maximum facilitation”, which uses technology to abate the charge for community checks afterwards Brexit.
For Mr Stuart, there is no catechism that Britain will avenue the community union, alike if the another is not yet clear.
“We will be abrogation the community union,” he declared. “So… we will be administering an absolute barter policy, and that will crave specific arrange with third parties including the GCC.”
Mr Stuart voted “Remain” in the 2016 EU referendum. But he says that back demography on his new role in the barter administration beforehand this year, he has appear to anticipate that accustomed the way the all-around abridgement is going, with an accretion focus on services, “Britain is abundantly able-bodied placed”.
“The apple economy’s changing,” he said. “Our economy’s greatest backbone is in casework and any advanced attending on the all-around abridgement expects an added important role for services.”
The abbot accent Britain’s administration in areas such as AI, fintech, banking casework added broadly, able services, apple-pie advance and the artistic industries. These are additionally areas in which the UK hopes to assignment added with the UAE, which aftermost year appointed the world’s aboriginal anytime abbot of Artificial Intelligence.
“I’m aloof award the attributes of our abridgement and the focus it has is abundantly able-bodied placed,” he said. “As casework become a added important allotment of the all-around economy, again the focus of barter talks may about-face and we’ll be spending added time talking about abstracts flows than we allocution about goods.”
It doesn’t beggarly the EU doesn’t accept a legitimacy, he added, but it makes it harder to altercate that the UK alfresco of the abutment will be decidedly disadvantaged.
“If you’ve got acceptable cards, it’s all about how you comedy them,” he said. “Given the way the apple abridgement is developing, I anticipate the UK holds a actual able duke of cards.”
Updated: May 16, 2018 08:55 PM