Thank you for your contacting me about “40 free trade deals”. Around 11.9% of UK trade worldwide is conducted through EU trade agreements with Third countries. As the Prime Minister secured a deal with the EU, all of the EU trade agreements remain in place during the transition period to 31st December 2020.
Preparations for post-December 2020 are extremely advanced. As of this moment, around 76% of trade which occurs under EU agreements has already been secured by so-called “roll over” agreements (which would have also come into effect if we had left the EU with No Deal). Knowing that more time was available, the final portion of these agreements are still under discussion to ensure that both parties achieve the maximum benefit.
When it comes to the EU agreement with the UK on trade, I said that the agreement “should” be relatively easy in a technical sense as we began with no tariffs, fees or quotas, an aim reiterated by both parties in the political discussion. This is usually the stage of a trade agreement that can be very lengthy. The reason I used the word “should” rather than “would” is because it is not the technical difficulties that might prove problematical but the politics, especially where the EU insists on imposing conditions on the UK regarding our economic management which are not needed to promote free open trade.