From customs to fishing, the key terms of post-Brexit trade deal

The EU and the UK may pursue tariffs and other sanctions according to rules established at the World Trade Organization.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal is unique in that it will leave businesses facing more barriers to trade than they did while Britain was a member of the European Union.


The following encapsulates the main points of the deal.


Trade in goods


Summary: The agreement ensures that most goods traded between the EU and UK won’t face new tariffs or quotas. However, British exporters will face an array of new regulatory hurdles that will make it more costly and burdensome to do business in Europe.


Market access: UK and EU goods will continue to receive tariff-free and quota-free treatment.


Rules of origin: New rules require the UK to self-certify the origin of its exports to the EU. Certain products that contain a high threshold of inputs from outside the EU and UK may face new tariffs.


Health and safety: The EU will require UK agri-food exporters to provide health certificates and undergo sanitary and phyto-sanitary controls at border inspection posts.


Testing and certification: UK regulatory bodies won’t be able to certify products for sale in the EU, a potentially big barrier to trade.


Trade remedies: The EU and the UK may pursue tariffs and other sanctions according to rules established at the World Trade Organization.


Financial services


Summary: The deal offers little clarity for financial firms. There is no decision on so-called equivalence, which would allow firms to sell their services into the single market from the City of London. The agreement only features standard provisions on financial services, meaning it doesn’t include commitments on market access.


Regulatory cooperation: The two sides made a joint declaration to support enhanced cooperation on financial oversight. They aim to agree on a Memor­andum of Understan­ding by March.


Level playing field


Summ­a­ry: The deal commits both sides to upholding their environmental, social, labour, and tax transparency standards to make sure they don’t undercut each other. The British say the deal doesn’t include a ratchet mechanism that would force it to stiffen its rule in lockstep with the EU.


Either side will be able to impose with tariffs if they diverge too much — subject to arbitration.


Break clauses


Summary: The trade deal can be reopened if the two sides fail to resolve a dispute, or want to change the terms of the agreement, according to people familiar with the matter. 


Fishing Rules


Summary: This was one of the most contentious areas after disputes over the control of British fishing grounds came to symbolise the country’s desire to leave the EU.


UK fleets will take 25 per cent of the current EU catch in British waters, worth £146 million ($198 million), phased in over five years. Britain’s opening negotiating position called for an 80 per cent increase.


There is a transition period of five-and-a-half years during which reciprocal access rights to each other’s waters remain unchanged.




Summary: Both sides pledge to limit customs red tape, including through programmes for trusted traders known as authorised economic operators.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel