Export deals face years of delay while world protests

Britain must establish a standard set of taxes on imports for negotiating trade deals but they must be approved by the World Trade OrganisationChris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Britain’s ability to forge trade deals outside the European Union risks being held up for years by the need for all 164 members of the World Trade Organisation to approve its tariff regime, the government has been warned.

Before it can make any deals Britain must establish a standard set of maximum tariffs, or taxes on imports, that it will apply to goods that come from countries with which it does not have a special free trade agreement.

This schedule of tariffs will become the benchmark for negotiating preferential deals with other parties — but under WTO rules it requires the…

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