Joint letter from the EU and the UK to the WTO

On the 11 October, the EU and UK published a joint letter sent from the EU and the UK Permanent Representatives to the WTO.

In preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, the UK government and the European Commission have set out a number of proposals for future global trading arrangements.

The proposals include apportioning the EU’s existing commitments on the amount of imported goods on which a lower duty is charged. These tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) apply to a range of everyday items such as dairy products and meat.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said

“As an international economic department, we’ve been working closely with the European Commission to prepare for our withdrawal from the EU in order to minimise any disruption to global trade.”

“Our agreed collaborative approach shows real progress on how UK government intends to take forward our future trading arrangements with the world. This is the start of our open and constructive engagement with the WTO membership and sets out our intentions regarding EU quotas to forge ahead and establish the UK as an independent WTO member.”

To ensure a smooth transition which minimises disruption to our trading relationships with other WTO members the UK intends to replicate as far as possible its obligations under the current commitments of the EU.

This agreed approach between the UK and EU will now form the first part of our cooperative, inclusive and open engagement we will have with WTO members, in accordance with WTO rules and procedures.

The letter is available from (pdf)

and was signed by

On behalf of the UK by
H.E. Julian Braithwaite, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the International Organizations in Geneva

On behalf of the EU by
H.E. Marc Vanheukelen, Permanent Representative of the European Union to the WTO

However, it may not be as straightforward as it seems according to a report from the BBC,

and another report by Politico EU

A number of countries Argentina, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, Uruguay and the USA have objected to the proposals because dividing quotas for goods imported at reduced tariffs for crucial agricultural goods such as meat, sugar and grains will leave them worse off. The letter was sent to Julian Braithwaite and Marc Vanheukelen on September 27. I noticed a copy of this letter at


I found a useful article about Tariff-rate Quotas on the Trade Beta Blog at

UK, EU, WTO, Brexit primer — 2. Tariff quotas