The United Kingdom has signed a post-Brexit trade deal with a group of Caribbean countries including Barbados and Jamaica, as the ministers scramble to sign as many agreements as possible before officially leaving the European Union.
The Department for International Trade said that it had signed an economic partnership agreement with the Caribbean forum (Cariforum) of countries, helping to maintain the imports of good including rum, sugar, and bananas to the United Kingdom.
The deal means that the efforts of the government to roll over the trade deals of the European Union from which the United Kingdom benefits has yielded agreements that cover a little more than a third of its trade with the countries involved.
After being able to secure agreements with Iceland and Norway earlier this week, the ministers have now signed deals that cover approximately £43 billion out of the £117 billion of annual British trade with the nearly 70 countries that the agreements of the European Union cover, an increase from the £16 billion last month.
Signing the deal with the Cariforum last Friday, George Hollingbery, a trade minister, said that the agreement would enable the United Kingdom to build on its historic connections with Commonwealth nations after Brexit.
He stated: “I am delighted to sign this agreement today as it will allow businesses to continue trading like they do today after we leave the EU.”
He added: “It will help to support jobs in the UK and throughout the Caribbean, as well as ensuring that the British supermarkets shelves continue to be stocked with the best Caribbean produce such as bananas, sugar and rum.”
The agreement covers as much as £2.5 billion in annual trade with Caribbean countries such as Dominica, Belize, Guyana, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Jamaica, and the Grenadines.
The UK Government said that the consumers would continue to have access to a wide range of products from the region. It added that the United Kingdom bought 100 percent of the bananas exported by Saint Lucia in 2017.
It comes after several other deals were finalised in the past weeks, including those made with large trading partners including Switzerland, but also with smaller partners such as Papua New Guinea and Fiji, which have drawn criticism from opponents who say that the European Union is a far more important trading partner. Approximately half of the trade of the United Kingdom is with the bloc.
However, the ministers are yet to sign deals with various key trading partners that covered by the free trade deals of the European Union, including Japan, South Korea, and Turkey, with several deals believed to be significantly off-track.