UK seals temporary Brexit trade deal with EFTA nations

UK seals temporary Brexit trade deal with EFTA nations

Thursday, October 22, 2020

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LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain has agreed a provisional trade deal with Norway, Switzerland and two other non-EU partners to ensure continuity after its Brexit divorce from the European Union, sources said Thursday.

The arrangement with the European Free Trade Association -- which also includes Iceland and Liechtenstein -- is set to keep most trade tariff-free on January 1.

The EFTA countries are outside the EU. Three of them pay to ensure access to the bloc's single market under an overarching partnership called the European Economic Area (EEA). Switzerland has its own patchwork of deals with the EU.

Britain left the EU in January but remains bound by most of its rules and regulations until the end of the year under the terms of its historic divorce from the bloc.

From 2021, it will lie outside the single market but is engaged in tough talks with Brussels to finalise a new trading partnership.

London is still negotiating with the EFTA states to secure a fuller free trade agreement next year.

Norway on Wednesday confirmed a temporary trade pact with Britain to take effect on January 1, after the two countries last month agreed a side deal on fishing rights.

Fisheries remains one of the main stumbling blocks holding up a UK-EU deal as talks resumed on Thursday. If no deal is done, Britain and the EU will revert to more onerous trading terms under the World Trade Organization.

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