A trade continuity agreement will see British businesses and consumers benefitting from continued trading arrangements with Fiji and Papua New Guinea after the UK leaves the EU.
International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox signed the UK-Pacific agreement in London today (Thursday 14 March) with the Papua New Guinea and Fiji High Commissioners.
The news has been welcomed by businesses including Tate & Lyle Sugars and Fiji Sugar Corporation, who say the sugar industry provides a living to nearly a quarter of the Fijian population.
The agreement allows businesses to trade as freely as they do now, without any additional barriers or tariffs. It eliminates all tariffs on all goods imported from Fiji and Papua New Guinea into the UK and will gradually remove around 80% of tariffs on British exports to these countries.
These preferential terms are part of the UK government’s commitment to supporting developing countries to reduce poverty through trade. It will help them to grow their economies, create jobs, increase incomes and reduce reliance on overseas aid in the long-term.
In an announcement yesterday the government confirmed that it would retain tariffs on some products in a no deal scenario, including raw cane sugar and some types of fish, to protect livelihoods in developing countries.
International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:
I am delighted to sign this trade continuity agreement today as it will allow businesses to keep trading as freely as they do today, even in a no deal scenario.
This is good news for British business and consumers who will continue to benefit from the continued supply of products, including sugar and fish.
The agreement will also benefit thousands of people in some of the furthest reaches of the Commonwealth, with around a quarter of Fijians relying on employment through the sugar industry according to the Fiji Sugar Corporation and more than a quarter of the sugarcane they produce being exported to the UK.
One company set to benefit from the Pacific Islands continuity agreement is UK business Tate and Lyle Sugars who over the last 5 years have sourced over 350,000 tonnes of raw cane sugar from Fiji.
The firm, which directly employs 850 people in the UK, produces over 650 sugar, syrup and treacle products. This includes the iconic Lyle’s Golden Syrup – the UK’s oldest, unchanged brand.
Gerald Mason, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Tate & Lyle Sugars said:
Tate & Lyle Sugars warmly welcomes today’s signing of the Pacific trade continuity agreement.
Fiji is a long-term supplier of ours. Ensuring we can continue to source raw cane sugar from there is critical to the future success of our business, particularly our two refineries in London and the 850 people we directly employ in the UK.
We now look forward to continuing our close relationship with our suppliers in Fiji and the communities they in turn support.
Graham Clark, CEO of Fiji Sugar Corporation said:
The UK is a very important market for Fiji sugar exports, and strong historical trade links have been forged over time, built on Fiji’s market access to the UK.
Fiji Sugar Corporation welcomes the news that a Pacific EPA replicated deal has been concluded.
The sugar industry provides a living to nearly one quarter of the population of Fiji, so the importance of trade continuity cannot be underestimated.
In 2017 total trade between the UK and the region was worth around £369 million. Replicating this deal will allow the UK to continue building the trading relationship with two of the furthest reaches of Commonwealth.
Based on current trade flows, fish exporters could save £2.1 million a year in tariff charges that could apply if the agreement wasn’t in place, while sugar exporters could save more than £8.6 million. Consumers in the UK will continue to benefit from more choice and lower prices for products from these countries.
The agreement also ensures that other countries in the region may request to join the UK-Pacific Agreement in future, which would further build UK-Pacific trade links.
The UK is seeking to provide continuity for existing EU trade agreements covering more than 70 countries that account for 11% of total UK trade and we are making good progress having recently signed agreements with Switzerland and Chile.
Like all these agreements, the new UK-Pacific agreement replicates the existing trading arrangements as far as possible. It is expected to come into effect as soon as the implementation period ends in January 2021, or as soon as the UK leave the EU if we leave without a deal.