While Brexit doom-mongers have been focussing on the challenges of keeping access to the EU’s single market (16% of global trade – less once we’re gone), they forget there is a world elsewhere.
Green shoots are already emerging, as other countries start to realise the possibilities of free trade deals with a newly-liberated Britain, less than a week after the referendum:
The United States: We take it back
Many still remember Barack Obama’s interjection into the referendum debate, in which he told voters to stay in the EU – and was promptly ignored.
In one veiled threat he claimed an independent Britain, would be at the “back of the queue.”
Since Friday, however, the tune has changed and he assured the special relationship between the countries hasn’t suffered. He hasn’t mentioned queues (a British word that raised suspicions it was a Remain campaign plant) since.
— Viv J. (@Un_Spin) June 28, 2016
“The ‘back of the queue’ statement will be forgotten by the next administration, if not sooner,” claims Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics.
A former deputy U.S. Trade Representative, Miriam Sapiro, thinks it might be even easier for the US to negotiate a trade deal with Britain, a “like-minded” country that is more open to free trade than other EU member states.
Meanwhile, members of Congress are already openly and seriously discussing the possibilities of a U.S-UK trade deal.
Iceland was the first country to offer Britain a trade deal following the referendum.
Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Iceland’s president, said the UK can join a “triangle” of non-EU countries, including Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA).
Despite confessing himself not in love with the idea of Brexit, he talked up the opportunities it could bring to the North Atlantic in an interview with Icelandic media.
@CJCHowarth The government of Iceland is already considering the possibility of a trade deal with the UK and will raise the issue at EFTA.
— Hjörtur J. (@Hjortur_J) June 25, 2016
India: Can we finally have a deal with someone in Europe?
The one-time colony (which has almost three times as many citizens as the EU) is looking forward to striking a deal, according to reports in the Financial Times.
The EU’s last attempt at a deal began nine years ago and has stalled with no obvious prospect of resumption.
Indian deputy finance minister Jayant Sinha said: “The UK is going to look to build its relationships with the rest of the world, and will seek to pursue new opportunities with us.”
Germany: Free trade, please, but don’t tell Merkel
Although as an EU member it has no power to strike its own deal, Germany – Britain’s biggest trade partner – is keen to keep the doors open.
The German Finance Ministry advised the EU to enter into negotiations aiming at making the UK an “associated partner country” of the trade block.
This comes after Germany industry giants pressed the government to strike a free trade deal in the event of Britain leaving the EU.
People quoting German BDI leader economy -helped both sides really – Germany wd insist on free trade deal with UK + Brexit would damage econ
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) June 22, 2016
New Zealand and Australia: Commonwealth pals
Two more former colonies – with whom Britain has very close cultural ties – have shown interest in striking trade deals with Britain.
Both countries have been negotiating with the EU, but Britain’s surprise withdrawal has made the deal less attractive – and encouraged them to think about embracing the UK.
New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters said “a trade deal with the UK is an absolute priority” and “New Zealand must be the first country in the queue for a trade deal with a liberated United Kingdom.”
Labour Party leader Andrew Little suggested New Zealand should draw on its long and historic relationship with the UK to ensure future trade.
Meanwhile, Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull suggested New Zealand and Australia could team up to negotiate a single deal with the UK.
The African nation was quick out of the traps to propose a trade deal. Ghanaian foreign minister Hannah Tetteh said she was working up a delegation already.
The West African nation already has a trade deal with the EU, but wants to keep seamless access to Britain. Brexit could offer a chance to tweak the arrangements to suit both nations better.
Protectionist EU agricultural policies penalise African countries, meaning freer trade with the UK could help them to prosperity through trade.
So far Iceland, Ghana, Australia, NZ want to be first with a free trade deal with UK. US Senators also lobbying for a US/UK deal.
— Richard Willis (@CllrRWillis) June 27, 2016
Canada: We are cautious outside, but can’t wait inside
The Justin Trudeau administration has reacted with caution to the news of Britain leaving the EU – but assured continuing ties.
“The UK and the EU are important strategic partners for Canada with whom we enjoy deep historical ties and common values. We will continue to build relations with both parties as they forge a new relationship,” a government statement said.
The Sun also reported today that Canadian officials had approached the Foreign Office for talks.
Mexico: We already have a draft
While Iceland was the first one to offer a trade deal to Britain, Mexico has beaten it by already drafting a trade pact between the countries.
Fearing temporary economic instability that Brexit could bring, the finance minister was encouraged to draft a trade agreement with the UK.
Switzerland: “Interested and open”
The president of Switzerland, Johann Schneider-Ammann, has reached out to Britain and would support our attempt to join EFTA (European Free Trade Association).
At a media conference, the President was asked “Whether the UK would be welcome in the EFTA family?”
He responded: “We are interested and open.”
Business Secretary Sajid Javid has also revealed today that South Korea contacted the government to begin bilateral trade talks as soon as possible.
South Korea has declared interest in UK trade deal (world's 11th biggest economy), surely Canada (10th biggest) will follow.
— chris g (@chrisg0000) June 27, 2016
Featured image: USAID/Flickr