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Tim Brightbill Discusses Brexit’s Impact on U.K.’s WTO Commitments

Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Report for Executives
August 3, 2016

Timothy C. Brightbill, a partner in Wiley Rein’s International Trade Practice, was quoted in an August 1 article in Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Report for Executives about the impact of Brexit—the U.K.’s planned departure from the European Union (EU)—on the U.K.’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and related trade agreements. The article discusses various opinions from trade leaders on whether the U.K.’s and the EU’s WTO commitments are one and the same, or whether the U.K. needs to negotiate a new agreement with the WTO’s 164 member countries.

“It is clear that the United Kingdom is a member of the WTO, apart from the EU,” said Mr. Brightbill. “The U.K. can properly argue that it should be allowed all of the trade benefits of WTO membership, based on its tariff rates included in the current EU schedule of commitments.”

“At the same time, the EU can also argue that by withdrawing from the EU, the U.K. also withdrew from those commitments, and therefore must renegotiate with more than 160 other WTO members,” he added. “It’s a matter of legal interpretation and probably unprecedented from the WTO’s standpoint. So there’s no clear answer.”