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We now make our own adjustments to Brexit



THE United Kingdom (UK) finally left the European Union (EU) last January 31 after months of indecision in the British Parliament where Prime Minister Boris Johnson could not find sufficient support for his plans for Britain’s exit – Brexit – from the EU.

The withdrawal has now been accomplished without much trouble, with the two sides agreeing on a transition period until the end of 2020, at least. During this period, the UK will continue to participate in EU’s Customs Union and Single Market and apply EU law. There will be time enough during this one-year transition period to decide on hundreds of international agreements that the EU concluded in such areas as trade, aviation, and fisheries.

How does Brexit affect the Philippines? Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez said the UK has not been one of the country’s main trade partners. Having a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK will now give us an opportunity to build a stronger trade relationship, he said.

As early as 2016 when the UK voted to leave the EU, there was already talk of negotiations for possible bilateral free trade agreement once Brexit was done. “There will be more flexibility for the UK and the Philippines,” said the British prime minister’s trade envoy to the Philippines, MP Richard Graham.

“The UK has a strong service sector and we are a very open country. We are also not sensitive about agricultural produce from the Philippines,” he said. He saw opportunities in both countries for increased trade and investments in infrastructure, textiles, consumer goods, aerospace, defense, manufacturing, and education.

Meanwhile, the Philippines will continue to work with the EU and its 27 member nations which continue to form a single market of 450 million people and more than 20 million businesses. It is also the world’s largest development aid donor, said Josep Borrell, high representative and vice president of the European Union, and Michel Barnier, head of the task force for relations with the UK.

There will be changes in our relations with the UK and the EU but there will also be opportunities for our country as we now make our own adjustments to Brexit.