The Brexit trade talks are the final step, weeks after the no-deal deadline

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, on 8 January 2020 in London, UK.

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LONDON – The UK and EU are in the “final stages of negotiations” on a post-Brexit trade agreement, with the British Foreign Secretary saying there are only a few weeks left to approve a possible agreement.

The UK withdrew from EU membership in January, but agreed to abide by European rules by the end of 2020 so both sides could develop new trade agreements. However, this has proved to be a difficult task in the negotiations on the same three issues since the spring.

“I think it’s a very significant week, the last real big week,” Dominic Raab told the BBC on Sunday.

Both sides need to agree on new trade agreements and correct them in their parliaments before the end of the year. Failure to do so could lead to a business-as-usual scenario – higher costs and constraints for exporters on both sides.

According to Raab, the breakthrough depends on overcoming the differences between the number of “fairly narrow” issues. The main points of attachment remain over fisheries, competition policy and the management of future agreements. They have differing views on how much access European fishing crews should have in UK waters and what market competition rules should be applied to ensure that Britain’s departure does not jeopardize the EU’s single market.

Without fishing, a business can fall apart

Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said on Monday morning that fishing was a more difficult issue than competition rules.

Without an agreement on fisheries, “the whole thing could fall on your back,” he said, stressing the importance of this issue throughout the negotiation process.

“Quotas and access – it’s all set in Brussels, and of course the UK government has said we have left the EU … and we want to regain control of our waters,” said Georgina Wright, senior researcher at the Government Institute. on Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”

He added: “if there is an agreement, it has to happen very soon, and that is because businesses need to be prepared, so fishermen on both sides need to know what and what will happen on 1 January.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters in London on Sunday: “Let’s work, let’s work,” Sky News writes, citing the likelihood of a deal.

Before arriving in London for further talks, Barnier said on Friday that “the same significant differences still exist”.

Businesses are worried

Earlier last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “these are crucial days” in the process, but she could not say whether there would be an agreement at all. The message from London has been more positive since then.

The UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, said on Friday that “it’s too late, but the deal is still possible”.

A European official, who did not want to be named because of the sensitive nature of the talks, told CNBC over the weekend that the breakthrough would depend on a phone call between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and von der Leyen.

However, there are no plans yet for a call between the two.

Meanwhile, businesses on both sides are waiting for the process to end. The British Chambers of Commerce, the business board of businesses, warned in late September of “major shortcomings” in companies’ government guidelines if no agreement was reached.

As a member of the EU for more than 40 years, many British exporters have relied on raw materials or customers in Europe and vice versa.

Car manufacturers are said to stock cars and parts to avoid imposing duties in the event that the UK and EU do not reach an agreement. Brands such as Volkswagen and Honda have large manufacturing plants in the UK and then export them to the rest of the EU.