World: Britain's Fox says wants new Brexit WTO terms with minimal disruption

International Trade secretay Liam Fox photo:(Courtesy)

Europe Agreeing Britain’s post-Brexit membership terms with the World Trade Organization will not be simple but should be done in a way that causes minimal disruption to global trade, trade minister Liam Fox said on Sunday.

Fox, a leading Brexit campaigner ahead of the June 23 referendum, said Britain did not need to re-apply to join the international trade body when it leaves the European Union as it was already “a full and founding member”.

But as Britain is currently a member of the WTO through the EU, it will need to agree new membership terms, or schedules of tariffs, following Brexit and those terms will have to be agreed by all other WTO members.

“What we do need to have are the schedules, which are effectively our license to trade. That’s what we are discussing at the present time,” Fox said in an interview with the Huffington Post on the sidelines of the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham, central England.

“We will want to see a position on WTO schedules adopted in a way that causes minimal disruption. That is not an entirely simple process, and we would never pretend that it is, but neither is it an insoluble riddle.”

Before the referendum, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the rest of the WTO could take years or decades.

The chief executive of Nissan (7201.T) earlier this week said the Japanese automaker could scrap a potential new investment in Britain’s biggest car plant if the country did not pledge compensation for any tax barriers resulting from Brexit.

Asked about threats to withdraw investment, Fox said Britain’s strong legal base offered companies certainty.

“Investment is a balance of risks when you come to look at it, and I think that the UK remains the number one destination for safe investment,” he said.

Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday Britain will trigger the formal divorce procedure by the end of March, but Fox said the government would not rush the process.

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