The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020. Brexit means that, after the end of the transition period, the EU’s trade agreements with non-EU partners will no longer apply to the UK. The UK will need to replace these with its own bilateral trade agreements and has already started to negotiate the roll-over of EU trade agreements; it also gains opportunities to conclude agreements with partners that do not have a preferential trading relationship with the EU. Questions have already arisen over the UK Government’s approach to competition policy (notably state aid) and whether the EU can expect increasing economic rivalry from the UK. Moreover, new trade agreements with third countries have been touted as a central element of the government’s post-Brexit strategy, notably as an alternative to EU membership.

In the transatlantic context, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement will remain in place between Canada and the EU, to be replaced with a newly-negotiated Canada-UK agreement. The UK has also launched trade negotiations with the US, while talks between the EU and the US about a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have, for now, been frozen.

This module discusses political debates about transatlantic trade post-Brexit from a number of angles:

  • First, it will analyze controversies about specific elements of the proposed agreements – such as provisions affecting dairy markets, food safety, health care and digital – as well as the ways in which they are framed in political discourse.
  • Second, it will look into the implications of the coronavirus pandemic for post-Brexit transatlantic trade relations, such as transnational supply chains and the relationship between trade and health becoming more prominent in public discourse.
  • Third, it will consider how trade policy debates contribute to the discursive construction of political and trading communities in the post-Brexit context. For instance, it will examine how polities build their own image as a trade power (“Global Britain”, the EU’s vision of “trade for all” and “open strategic autonomy”) and how trade processes feature in narratives about new transnational alliances (e.g. the “special relationship” between the US and the UK, the “Anglosphere” and CANZUK).

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With the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union