Brexit: Japan trade deal will not be ready by deadline

The UK won’t be able to roll over an EU trade deal with Japan in time for Brexit, Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said.

It was one of the most important EU trade deals the UK hoped to replicate ahead of the 29 March withdrawal date.

The Department of International Trade also said that the EU’s customs union deal with Turkey will not be ready.

In 2017 Mr Fox said the UK would be able to replicate 40 EU free trade deals by Brexit day.

But so far his department has only been able to finalise “continuity agreements” with seven of the 69 countries and regions with which the EU has trade deals.

These include Switzerland, Chile, the Faroe Islands, Eastern and Southern Africa, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The UK also has mutual recognition agreements signed with the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Industry group the CBI said deals with Japan and Turkey not being concluded on time would be “an unwelcome surprise” for business.

The organisation’s director of international trade and investment Ben Digby said it was “vital” for the government to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

“Many companies are unaware it is not just their relationships with EU customers at risk from a no-deal Brexit, but those across the globe,” he said.

“Individual businesses trading with markets outside the EU would face tariffs worth millions of pounds being slapped on them instantaneously.

“It is vital no deal is taken off the table to unlock transition, allowing the UK to remain part of these deals and provide space to agree new arrangements.”