May's China visit a shot in arm for trade and ties

Howard TerryFeb 03, 2018

The EU has offered Britain a status quo transition until the end of 2020 after Brexit.

"Looking forward to welcoming Michel Barnier to London on Monday".

The Cabinet has yet to decide what kind of trading relationship it wants with the European Union after it leaves as ministers are deeply divided.

But Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, ruled out British membership of any customs union with the EU after Brexit.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's China visit can be deemed a success, having boosted bilateral ties and laid the groundwork for further cooperation in trade and investment, analysts said. The customs union now frees members from tariffs when trading with one another but requires them to observe a common external tariff regime and not to strike deals with third countries. The Confederation of British Industry has called for the U.K.to remain in the customs union and the opposition Labour Party has ambiguously backed a similar arrangement.

"What the British people voted for is for us to take back control of our money, our borders and our laws and that's exactly what we are going to do".

May has repeatedly said that Brexit will mean leaving the existing EU single market and customs union arrangements.

She was asked on Sky News whether the £9bn of deals struck during the three-day trip was "living evidence" that "you can do loads more trade with China without doing a free trade agreement and therefore we can stay very closely aligned with the EU, and a customs union too". No date has been set for a debate.

In an interview with Sky News Mrs May was asked whether the £9 billion-worth of deals struck during her three-day trip showed it was possible to increase trade with countries like China without a free trade agreement and that the United Kingdom could therefore remain "very closely aligned with the EU, and a customs union too".

Bale said pro-EU lawmakers will have to push for membership of "a" customs union, rather than "the" customs union to increase their chances of success.

Pro-EU lawmakers are facing a fierce backlash from Brexit supporters, who accuse them of trying to thwart the will of the people. "A rebrand from "the" to "a" might work, but whether it will work from the point of view of the European Union is another matter". The two countries signed trade agreements worth 9 billion pounds during the British leader's visit.

"China really respects Britain", said the influential Global Times tabloid - the same newspaper which in 2013 dismissed Britain as "just an old European country apt for travel and study" in a scathing editorial during a visit by May's predecessor David Cameron, who had infuriated China by meeting the Dalai Lama.

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