How many trade deals will we lose access to post Brexit if we leave the Customs Union?

11 December 2019

The EU currently has 41 trade agreements, covering 72 countries. As an EU member state, the UK currently participates in those agreements. The UK is currently seeking continuity for its existing EU trade agreements with a number of countries after Brexit, and trade with them made up about 11% of UK trade in goods and services in 2018. The EU made up just under half and the rest of the world made up the remainder.

As we’ve said before, after Brexit the UK will leave those EU trade agreements, but will then be able to negotiate its own separate agreements with other countries. We can’t say for certain how this will affect the UK’s trade.

The UK is currently in the process of negotiating the rollover of these EU trade agreements. So far, the UK has negotiated 19 agreements covering 50 countries, which will come into force after the transition period ends (currently scheduled for the end of December 2020).

The EU does not currently have a trade agreement with the United States—negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were frozen in 2016 and declared obsolete in 2019. After Brexit the UK will be free to negotiate its own trade agreement with the United States. Counting the EU countries separately, the USA is the UK’s largest trading partner, making up just under 15% of UK trade.


This article is part of our Ask Full Fact series on the 2019 general election, answering your questions about the election, from claims the main parties are making to what happens on polling day.

You can see all the questions we’ve answered so far and we’ll keep adding to it as we get through them.

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