Confirmation that the UK would become an independent part of the GPA in the event of a non-agreement was announced on 27 February. In February, several fisheries agreements were also presented to Parliament. The EU has free trade agreements with 37 partners that have entered into full force, including South Korea, Japan and Singapore, as well as free trade agreements with 43 partners, such as Canada and Ukraine, which are provisionally implemented. In May, the EU and Mexico also reached an agreement on modernising the existing agreement. Negotiations for new free trade agreements are underway with 19 countries, including Australia and New Zealand. They have also evolved to cover a wider range of areas to facilitate trade. These include public procurement opportunities, business visas, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, product certification, intellectual property rights and cross-border trade in services. The EU has trade agreements with these countries/regions, but both sides are now negotiating an update. The EU has concluded more than a thousand international agreements with third countries, covering trade, aviation, nuclear cooperation and other issues.
These no longer apply to the UK when it leaves the EU. The government has identified 157 agreements with non-EU countries that it is seeking to replace in the event of a non-Brexit deal. Some agreements have already been concluded, but most of them are in progress and some will not be in force by the day scheduled for Brexit on 31 October. In December 2018, the government announced that an agreement had been reached with Switzerland for a transition between the UK and Switzerland during the planned VA transition period, in accordance ”as much as possible” with existing agreements. It would also allow most agreements to be replicated if the UK left the EU without a deal. A unilateral trade agreement is a treaty that requires only the action or initiative of a state. The agreement benefits only one state and has the potential to help the economies of developing countries. Even if a product comes from the exporting country, its origin still needs to be verified in order to reduce or eliminate the tariff altogether.