Q&As

What is the status of the UK’s World Trade Organization (WTO) schedules for goods and services?

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Produced in partnership with Eric White of Herbert Smith Freehills
Published on LexisPSL on 03/10/2019

The following Public Law Q&A produced in partnership with Eric White of Herbert Smith Freehills provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is the status of the UK’s World Trade Organization (WTO) schedules for goods and services?
  • The UK WTO goods schedule
  • The UK's WTO services schedule
  • Conclusion

Under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement, the limitations on the tariffs that a WTO member can apply on the import of goods and its commitments to allow trade in services are set out in schedules to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) respectively. As an EU Member State, the UK is currently covered by the schedules of the EU. Following withdrawal from the EU, the UK will need to have its own schedules.

New UK WTO schedules for both goods and services have been drawn up and notified to the WTO as ‘technical rectifications’, not requiring formal agreement of the other 163 WTO members but only certification by the Director General of the WTO. The process is nonetheless long and complex because certification can only occur once all objections are resolved.

The UK WTO goods schedule

On 19 July 2018, the UK circulated to the WTO a draft GATT schedule that it proposed should apply to its trade in goods with other WTO members post-Brexit. As already noted, this was presented as a ‘technical rectification’ on the basis that it is simply transcribing the commitments that already applied for the UK as a Member State of the EU.

The matter is not, however, as simple as it seems since, for a number of goods, the EU

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