The EU and UK Punt Brexit: Fourth Time’s the Charm?

Boot kicking can that says "Brexit" down a leaf-strewn road
What else you got left
Oct 28, 2019
ARLINGTON, VA – Last week, the United Kingdom’s parliament delivered a blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson by forcing the pro-Brexit leader to request yet another extension, this one for 90 days, prior to separation from the European Union.  Today, EU ambassadors signed off on the UK’s request for an extension, punting the hard-split date from October 31, 2019 to January 31, 2020.  Though, the UK and the EU could, in theory, reach an amicable deal sooner than January 31 and ratify it via legislation.

The shadow of uncertainty surrounding Brexit still remains, leaving questions for many American, European, and other global export businesses about how the UK will conduct trade business once the formal separation occurs.  

USA Rice members visited with officials with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington two weeks ago where a U.S.-UK Free Trade Agreement was a popular topic of discussion.  At the direction of President Trump, USTR is prepared to quickly begin hammering out a free trade agreement with the UK once the separation from the EU formally occurs.  While the U.S. government is not privy to the conversations between the EU and UK on how a split is shaping up, USTR is relaying feedback on behalf of industry to help secure a strong free trade agreement in the future.

“USTR and USDA are certainly taking USA Rice’s feedback into account on how to best position ourselves for a future deal, as well as helping us work out the logistical concerns in the short-term, like managing import licenses auctioned off prior to the split, quota allocation between the EU and the UK, etc.,” said Mark Holt, vice president of international sales for Riceland Foods, and chair of the USA Rice European Union Trade Policy Subcommittee.

“While this is the fourth official extension, I do think that the finish line is nearing as the length of the delays shortens, giving time to work out some of the remaining formalities,” Holt added.

USA Rice will continue to monitor the political and logistical implications of the UK’s exit from the EU, particularly looking for opportunities for market growth for U.S. rice.