Last month, Britain and the EU finally sealed a post-Brexit trade agreement, ending months of bitter talks and disagreements over fishing rights and future business rules. On Christmas Eve, a statement from Downing Street announced “the deal is done” – swiftly followed by confirmation from Brussels. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the agreement is a “good deal” for the “whole of Europe” – one that signifies “a new stability and a new certainty in what has sometimes been a fractious and difficult relationship”.
Two days before the end of the transition period, MPs overwhelmingly approved the agreement in a parliamentary vote.
It came into force on January 1, creating a platform for future cooperation on issues such as crime-fighting, energy and data sharing.
Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk, Government trade adviser Shanker Singham hailed the beginning of the new partnership, claiming the deal is ever better than what the Swiss have with the bloc.
Mr Singham, the CEO of economic consultancy Competere, said: “There is no one in the world that has a full zero-quota, zero-tariff deal with the EU.
“We are the only country that has that.
“To get a zero-quota, zero-tariff deal with the EU is very very unusual.”
He added: “Frankly, this is a better deal than what the Swiss have with the EU.
“If I was Switzerland, I would want a similar deal.
“And in fact, if I was Switzerland, Turkey or even one of the Mediterranean countries like Morocco, I would be going for this exact kind of deal.”
Switzerland is not an EU member state.
It is associated with the Union through a series of bilateral treaties in which Bern has adopted various provisions of EU law in order to participate in the Union’s single market, without joining as a member state.
All but one – the microstate Liechtenstein – of Switzerland’s neighbouring countries are EU member states.
It took 17 years for Bern to hammer out a one-off bilateral trade deal, which was said to be nowhere near as complex as the one Mr Johnson negotiated.
Mr Singham added that the dispute resolution in the Brexit deal will be a “great advantage to global trade”.
If either side moves away from common standards and if that has a negative impact on the other side, a dispute mechanism can be triggered which could mean tariffs being imposed.
However, it will be based around a “rebalancing” clause, which gives both the EU and the UK the right to take steps if there are significant divergences. This clause is much stricter than measures found in other recent EU trade deals.
Mr Singham said: “The transmission of a correctly applied rebalancing clause will be a great advantage to global trade.
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“If it is used as a market distortion reduction tool, I reckon there would be appetite in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for it… provided it is linked with a zero-tariff and zero-quota deal.”
In a recent interview with Swiss German public broadcasting station SRF, national deputy Hans-Peter Portmann from the Radical-Liberal Party has already demanded the Swiss Government include the Brexit deal in upcoming talks with the EU next month, and warned not to “drop below the level that Britain has now”.
Centre Democratic Union National MP Roger Köppel also tweeted: “Boris Johnson did well.
“He negotiated hard, no submissiveness, agreement reached – without foreign lawmakers and foreign judges.”
Autonomiesuisse, a Swiss committee of entrepreneurs, said in a press release on Christmas Day “new room for manoeuvre is created for the Swiss-EU negotiations” as a result of the successful conclusion the UK-EU trade deal talks.
The statement concluded: “Overall, during the Brexit negotiations the issues of political sovereignty were largely settled in the way desired by economiesuisse for the Swiss-EU framework agreement.
“The Brexit agreement shows that there is potential for negotiations with Brussels.”