Boris urged to follow new trading blueprint with Switzerland as EU Brexit talks crumble

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Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association after voting against joining the EU in a 1992 referendum. Craig Tracey, MP for North Warwickshire and Bedworth, has suggested the UK should start to focus more attention towards a “Swiss model” of trade and business after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week the UK was prepared to walk away from trade talks with the EU by October 15.

Mr Tracey explained how following Switzerland’s model of doing business with other countries could be key to the UK recovering from the economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic in a post-Brexit world.

He told City AM: “Deepening trade ties with a nation which we had £14.9bn of bilateral trade in 2018 is a major step forward for our trade agenda. But, equally as important, delivering a template for future agreements that further the UK’s interests by gaining access to foreign markets and welcoming investors and businesses to our world-leading financial services ecosystems, is real game changer.

“The UK’s commercial insurance and reinsurance markets, centred around Lloyd’s of London, is one such ecosystem where brokers and insurers come together to place some of the world’s most complex risks.

“It is the insurance market of choice for major global companies because it offers a dynamic network and deep reserves of capital and expertise which perfectly equip it to manage complex and challenging risks.

“Its unmatched global reach is exactly why Switzerland and other nations around the world want to come here and invest in the UK.”

Mr Tracey added the UK could start to build a new form of trade agreement that would allow trade to occur freely “cross-border”.

He explained: “Ultimately we need to reach a point where our relationship is based on a passporting style arrangement which allows brokers, insurers and reinsurers in the UK and Switzerland to trade freely cross-border, allowing brokers to have direct contact with clients in Switzerland and carriers to write business on a cross border basis.

“The benefits of such an arrangement are significant.

“Swiss parent insurance firms, which have already passed our regulatory tests, would benefit from accessing London’s global marketplace, which would spare them some of the more onerous requirements which currently exist under the branch regime for Swiss insurers.

“They would have greater access to our world-beating financial services ecosystem, which in turn would incentivise them to create more jobs in the UK.”

Britain left the European Union on January 31.

However, the talks on new trade terms have not made a great deal of progress as the transition arrangement is due to end in late December.

Then eighth round of trade deal negotiations between the UK and the EU started in London today.

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The Internal Market Bill, which is being tabled today, will ensure goods from Northern Ireland continue have access to the UK market, while making clear EU state aid rules, which will continue to apply in Northern Ireland, will not apply in the rest of the UK.

An amendment to the Finance Bill will also give ministers the power to designate which goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are considered “at risk” of entering the EU single market and at risk of EU tariffs.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warned there could be no backtracking by the UK on its previous commitments if it wanted to reach a free trade agreement.

She said: “I trust the British Government to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, an obligation under international law and prerequisite for any future partnership.
“(The) protocol on Ireland-Northern Ireland is essential to protect peace and stability on the island and integrity of the single market.”

UK negotiator David Frost warned the UK’s position comes from the “fundamentals of being a sovereign state” and called for the EU to “fully recognise this reality”.

He said: “I will sit down with Michel Barnier and drive home our clear message that we must make progress this week if we are to reach an agreement in time.

“We have now beentalking for six months and can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground. We need to see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country.”

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