The World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo said that Britain’s move to exit the European Union was not “anti-trade” and that the flow of goods between the UK and EU will not grind to a halt during and after negotiations between the parties.
In an interview, the head of the WTO said that the negotiation of the UK in relation to its trade relations with the EU will be relatively straightforward.
“I will be working hard – I will work very intensely to ensure that this transition is fast and is smooth,” he said.”The less turbulence the better. The global economy today is not in the best shape for us to be introducing turbulence.”
According to Azevedo, in the process of transitioning away from the EU there wouldn’t be a vacuum in terms of trade and economics though the process could be tricky and might disrupt some UK businesses and households that rely on heavy trading between UK and EU.
“The UK is a member of the WTO today, it will continue to be a member tomorrow. There will be no discontinuity in membership.They have to renegotiate (their terms of membership) but that doesn’t mean they are not members,” he said. “Trade will not stop, it will continue and members negotiate the legal basis under which that trade is going to happen. But it doesn’t mean that we’ll have a vacuum or a disruption.”
The WTO has since changed its stance from earlier warning before the vote about the problems that would face the UK if it left the EU. Then, Azevedo said that questions could be raised about its membership of the union as well as its ability to renegotiate other trade agreements that it was included during its stay in the EU.
Azevedo did admit that it would be difficult to gauge the length of time the UK would need to renegotiate the trade agreements it entered into.
“It’s very difficult to predict but my understanding is that the UK government is fully aware of all that, we have been talking, they know of these complexities and they’re trying to handle it in the best way they can,” said Azevedo who spoke with Trade Secretary Liam Fox to confirm that he and the WTO secretariat is going to help smoothen out the transition should they be needed.
Azevedo speculates that the UK does have a comprehensive plan for their exit from the EU. He believes that the Brexit vote caused many in the UK to come up with alternative solutions and new game plans for the changing trade and economic market in the country.