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The transition period has now officially ended.

Signed, sealed and delivered: UK signs first major independent trade deal in 47 years

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The UK and Japan have put pen to paper on a trade deal that will allow tariff-free exports for 99% of British goods.

It’s the first major trade deal signed by the Government following the Brexit vote with international trade minister, Liz Truss said it’s a sign of future potential.

The main benefits for UK businesses include tariff-free exports, beneficial rules of origin interpretation for UK manufacturers, improved access for the UK’s financial services sector, and digital & data provisions which make it easier for UK firms to operate in Japan.

The main stumbling block had reportedly been stilton cheese which, upon signing the agreement, Truss presented to Japanese minister of foreign affairs Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu.

Truss said on the trade deal that: “It used to be said that an independent UK would not be able to strike major trade deals or they would take years to conclude. But today we prove the naysayers wrong with this ground-breaking, British-shaped deal that was agreed in record time.”

Read more: Canada or Australia – what are the benefits and shortfalls of each type of trade deal?

Whilst the new trade agreement is likely to contribute less than a 0.1% rise in GDP according to the government’s own analysis, the signing of the agreement is strategically important and could help lead the way in the UK’s bid to become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – allowing easier trade and access to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, and other Pacific Rim nations.

Meanwhile, intensified talks with the EU over a free trade agreement continue and remains the priority for the majority of UK businesses, with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier noting that ‘every day counts’ as the countdown to the end of the transition period ticks on.

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