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Brexit: The Exit, Transition and FTA negotiations

The overwhelming majority achieved by the UK’s Conservative Party, that campaigned with an “oven ready” deal, points to a UK departure from the EU on or before 31 January 2020 under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement agreed between the EU and the UK on 17 October 2019.

Irish businesses need to understand the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and what trading under the terms of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with mainland UK will mean. 

The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a permanent solution to preventing a hard border on the Island of Ireland and contains a new consent role for the Northern Ireland Assembly.  The UK and the EU have also agreed a new non-legally binding political declaration which sets out their aspirations of their future relationship – the most significant element of this is a future trading relationship based on a Free Trade Agreement.

We have set out below our initial analysis of the key areas business needs to focus on, including:

These and many other Brexit related issues are addressed in our Brexit Podcast series, ‘Navigating Brexit’.

The transition period contained within the Agreement, and the period in which the UK and the EU have to conclude and ratify an FTA, is due to expire on 31 December 2020 – little over a year away.  The Agreement provides that the UK and the EU can, up until 1 July 2020, agree to extend the transition period to 31 December 2021 or 31 December 2022. If there is no FTA by the end of the transition period, trade between the UK and the EU will default to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. A cliff edge risk therefore still remains. As the UK government have vowed not to look for an extension of the transition period, at least for now, this is a risk that business will have to monitor.

As such, if the Agreement is ratified, all eyes are likely to quickly turn to:

  • The FTA negotiations,
  • The possible extension date on 30 June 2020, and
  • The workings of the joint committee on finalising certain aspects of the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol.

If you would like to discuss the above and its potential impact on your business, please get in touch with our Brexit Response team or your usual KPMG contact.

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