The Truth About What Britain's WTO Trading Rules Will Be - From Man Who Spoke To WTO Chief

9 July 2019, 15:19

James O'Brien heard exactly what a no-deal Brexit on WTO terms would be like - from the British journalist who interviewed the head of the WTO.

Alex Dean from Prospect Magazine spoke to WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo about how the UK could trade on World Trade Organisation rules.

And the statements from the WTO chief are very different to those of politicians who say the UK would be fine trading on WTO rules.

Mr Dean told James O'Brien: "I spoke to figures inside the WTO - the organisation we would fall back on - to see what they thought.

"They told me it would be really problematic going from the situation we have now to WTO rules and we should think very carefully indeed before we do that.

"And people like Boris Johnson, who argue we can have our cake and eat it even after a no-deal, they basically flat-out contradicted him."

James O'Brien spoke to the journalist who asked the WTO what trading on WTO rules is like
James O'Brien spoke to the journalist who asked the WTO what trading on WTO rules is like. Picture: LBC / PA

James asked him what the WTO believe would happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 31st October. The alarming response: "There's going to be trade barriers erected overnight. Huge increases in tariffs.

"Also, what are called non-tariff barriers, such as sanitary checks and regulations. These are increased costs to trade which would render some businesses unviable overnight.

"Even some sectors. If you're going to be extreme about it, sectors like agriculture could really struggle simply to survive under these circumstances.

"The problem is that we simply can't lower tariffs after a no-deal just because we choose to do so. The WTO stops you doing that, because that counts as granting unfair privileged access to markets without going through the proper channels.

"So Brexiters who argue we could leave under no-deal and simply refuse to put up these trade barriers frankly don't know what they are talking about."

Some people mention that we can keep trading with the EU on identical terms as now using Gatt 24, but James pointed out that only kicks in if there is a deal agreed and it's the interim period before the deal can be implemented.

James had one further question about Alex's investigation: "Are there any grounds for thinking that the Director General of the WTO may have a poorer grasp of WTO terms than Mark Francois or Nadine Dorries?"

The full interview is an eye-opening look into what might happen on 31st October. Watch it in full at the top of the page.

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