As an EU Member State, the UK was automatically part of a number of free trade agreements with third countries, which will no longer apply to the UK once the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. To preserve the existing trade relationships with those countries and to mitigate the expected disruption of trade if such agreements came to an end, the UK has been negotiating and concluding numerous independent bilateral free trade agreements.

So far, the new agreements are “continuity” or else called “roll-over” agreements, meaning that they seek to reproduce the effect of the agreements between the EU and the partner countries. As such, they are based on a “cut and paste” of the corresponding EU agreement with the term “European Union” being replaced by “United Kingdom” and a host of other consequential technical adjustments, such as, to maintain alignment of the timetables for the phasing in of tariff reductions and adjusting the governance arrangements.

All of the most important of these agreements, except with Turkey, have already been concluded while others are at the various stages of preparation. Agreements have been secured with JapanCanada, Mexico and Vietnam and the three non-EU EEA Member States, namely Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein (which is trilateral agreement with Switzerland), that will come into effect on 1 January 2021. Negotiations are ongoing with various other countries – for example, Albania and Ghana.

The UK is also in discussions with Turkey, however, since Turkey is in a customs union with the EU (like San Marino and Andorra), the relationship will be affected by the shape of the UK-EU free trade agreement and could be finalised only once this is agreed.

A complete list of the UK agreements (updated from time to time) is available here.