UK discusses post-Brexit trade deal with Gulf states

The UK has been discussing post-Brexit trade deals with key Gulf states ahead of its impending deadline to leave the European Union (EU).

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s Minister of Economy, Sultan Al-Mansouri, said the UK has approached his country and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states in the hope of agreeing a trade deal ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU, which has become known as Brexit.

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Al-Mansouri said that negotiations over such agreements can take years. The UAE minister did not give further details on the nature of the deal.

READ: EU starts scheme to bypass US sanctions on Iran

British Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, said on the side-lines of the summit that the UK looks forward to a free trade agreement with the GCC countries, which includes the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March.

Last month, the British House of Commons (parliament) voted overwhelmingly against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which took two years of negotiations with the EU.

In 2017, annual trade between the UAE and the UK reached £17.5 billion ($22.7 billion), up 12.3 per cent from 2016, according to official data. By 2020, the UK wants to increase trade volume to £25 billion ($32 billion).

There are concerns about Britain’s exit from the EU without a withdrawal agreement, with the latter insisting that an agreement has been concluded and there is no possibility of renegotiating it.

READ: British trade minister Fox to visit Israel to push post-Brexit trade