Will the UK be able to do separate trade deals during the transition period?
We will be able to negotiate, sign and ratify new trade deals, but they won’t come in to force until the end of the transition or implementation period on 31 December 2020 (or later if the transition period is extended). That means the UK government can do everything needed to prepare separate trade deals with other countries which would start on 1 January 2021. This was agreed as part of the withdrawal deal.
However, there are reasons to believe that we are unlikely to finalise many trade trade deals during the transition period. The Institute for Government told us what can be negotiated may depend on our long-term relationship with the EU—so countries may want to wait to see what that looks like before spending a lot of time and effort on negotiating with the UK.
For example, a country like Turkey, which is not in the EU but has a customs agreement on goods with the EU, has limited scope to agree wider trade agreements.
This article is part of our Ask Full Fact series on Brexit, answering your questions about Brexit and the latest negotiations between the UK and the EU.