UK exits the EU (WTO goods schedules)

UPDATE (3) : objections also lodged by other countries

UPDATE (2) : objection is lodged by New Zealand – here. Earlier feedback is here.

UPDATE (1) : UK has now (end July 2018) submitted its WTO services schedules; and its GPA (procurement agreement) schedules to WTO and GPA members.

Yesterday 24th July, both the UK and the EU each filed their (goods) documents at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The EU said it will renegotiate its WTO trade commitments (to account for the UK exit from the 28-nation bloc) under Article 28 of GATT, a lengthy process involving the other WTO members – here.

The UK said it will make technical changes to its current WTO commitments (presently encompassed within those of the 28-nation bloc) via a 1980 procedure known as a technical rectification – here. The proposed UK Schedule referred to is here.

The WTO Press Release is here. WTO Members have three months to review the UK Schedule, and the UK Schedule is considered approved if there are no objections.

Background

The UK is already a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It is one of the founder members of both the WTO and its predecessor, the 1948 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – the “GATT”.

As with every other member of the WTO (and if outside the EU-28 bloc that has its own schedules), the UK would require its own “schedule of concessions” for goods and “schedule of specific commitments” for services. These schedules indicate specific commitments and obligations assumed by WTO members on tariff rates and other concessions. They provide predictability concerning market access for trade and are an integral part of the WTO agreements.

UK-specific WTO schedules are underway, which, as far as possible, the UK intends, will not alter the scope of UK market access obligations either in goods (GATT) or services (GATS) schedules.

In goods, this also includes the market access currently enjoyed by trading partners under Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) and Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS).

In services, it also means preparing a UK-specific Annex on Article II (Most Favoured Nation Treatment) exemptions under the GATS.

The UK intention is to have WTO schedules on the way to certification by the point of exit from the EU.

The UK Policy Paper – Trade White Paper: Preparing for our future UK trade policy – government response – here – says

Should the goods and services schedules be uncertified as we leave the EU, we do not anticipate there to be any problems – it is not uncommon for WTO members to operate on uncertified schedules for periods of time. In any case we will continue to work for as early a certification point as possible. The EU itself has not had up to date certified schedules since the EC15 enlargement in 1995.

Background reading on Services Schedules is here.