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The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has welcomed news that the UK Government and European Commission reached a deal on the future trading relationship.

The EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement’s key element of a zero-tariff, zero-quota trade is the first time the EU has agreed a zero tariff zero quota deal with any other trading partner.

Other elements of the deal are that qualifying goods must meet the terms of the product specific rules of origin; a level-playing field in terms of existing labour, social, environmental rules; no mutual recognition on conformity assessment on electrical and industrial goods; self-declaration of conformity of low-risk products to make it easier to sell in both markets; and mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status to facilitate customs processes and new customs, safety and security declarations.

A BRC spokesman said that the key elements of the deal are very much welcome in avoiding tariffs on everyday goods, providing some relief for cross-border traders, and offering the basis of future co-operation.

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Responding to the announcement of a free-trade deal between the UK and the EU, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “After years of campaigning for zero-tariff trade, we welcome the announcement of a free-trade agreement between the UK and EU. This protects consumers on both sides of the Channel from billions in import tariffs on everyday goods.

“The UK and EU Governments have taken a crucially important step in agreeing a zero-tariff agreement, to the benefit of customers all over Europe. They must now work to implement this new arrangement as soon as possible, ensuring there are no tariffs from Day 1, and finding new ways to reduce the checks and red tape that we’ll see from the 1st January. The BRC and the rest of the retail industry will be scrutinising the terms of this deal in the coming days.”

Mobility businesses were urged throughout 2020 to get ready for the January transition, regardless of the outcome of negotiations. These include ensuring staff register for residency rights and preparing for customs procedures when trading with the EU.

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