Preparing your business for Brexit

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union and entered a transition period that will continue until 31 December 2020. During this time the status quo of current trade rules, tariffs and tariff rate quotas (TRQs) will remain in place.

What changed on 1 February 2020?
While the UK has legally left the European Union, EU law will continue to apply in the UK. The UK will remain in the EU’s custom union and single market until the end of the transition period in December 2020 and be subject to EU rules and regulations.New Zealand’s trading relationship with the UK will continue as is until the end of 2020. New Zealand companies are encouraged to stay across developments in the UK during this time.

The UK's future trading relationship with the EU
During the transition period, the UK and the EU will negotiate their future trading relationship, with the goal to finalise a free trade agreement (FTA) by December 2020.

The FTA will aim to provide for preferential trading arrangements between the UK and EU from 1 January 2021, given the UK will no longer be a member of the EU Customs Union and Single Market. 

In the absence of a concluded FTA, the UK and EU would trade on non-preferential terms established by World Trade Organisation rules.  In either event - an agreed FTA or not - the rules that govern UK-EU trade will change at the conclusion of the transition period. We continue to encourage businesses to consider contingency planning for a range of scenarios, to minimise the effects of any disruption. This includes the possibility that trade and political agreements are not reached between the UK and the EU by the end of 2020.

The UK's future trading relationship with New Zealand
The UK is now in a position to negotiate their own trade agreements with other countries. The UK has named New Zealand as a priority country to begin negotiating an FTA with.                          

New Zealand companies should be reviewing their business operations to identify areas of their company that might be affected by future changes. Exporters who believe their company may be affected are encouraged to seek more information and consider taking action to mitigate any risks.

Data adequacy and transfers
Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will continue to apply in the UK until the end of 2020, including existing EU data adequacy decisions.

In the event of the UK leaving the EU on 1 January 2021 without trade and political agreements being agreed, the UK will continue to implement the requirements under the current GDPR (embodied in the UK Data Protection Act 2018). This will transitionally preserve the effect of the existing EU data adequacy decision in respect of New Zealand.

In New Zealand’s case, entities transferring data out of New Zealand are subject to the New Zealand Privacy Act 1993, and any successor to that Act. This will continue to be the case for outward transfers and will enable ‘business as usual’ to continue in respect of data transfers from New Zealand.

Bilateral agreements
To help ensure continuity and stability in the arrangements underpinning our trade, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have signed bilateral agreements on:

  • Sanitary Measures Applicable to Trade in Live Animals and Animal Products (the Veterinary Agreement) and
  • Mutual Recognition in Relation to Conformity Assessment (the Mutual Recognition Agreement)
  • Customs Agreement for Mutual Assistance on Administrative Matters.

These agreements are intended to come into effect at the conclusion of the transition period. They will ensure continuation of arrangements New Zealand currently has in place with the UK as a result of similar agreements concluded earlier between New Zealand and the EU. A statement containing more detail on the Veterinary Agreement and Mutual Recognition Agreement is available here.

Continuity in recognition arrangements
We also have continuity arrangements in place for:

  • exports of New Zealand organic products
  • conformity checks for the inspection of fresh fruit and vegetables prior to export (in New Zealand's case, specifically apples, pears and kiwifruit)
  • fisheries catch certification.

For more information

Additional information on Brexit can be found on the following New Zealand Government websites, and in the sections below. 

Disclaimer: This document is provided subject to NZTE’s Terms of Use (“Site” in the Terms means this document). It contains general information and is not formal advice. NZTE does not endorse or warrant the accuracy, reliability or fitness for any purpose of any information provided. It is recommended that you seek independent advice on any matter related to the use of the information. In no event will NZTE be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising from the use of the information.

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