Now, the U.K. government said it wants to maintain tariff-free, bureaucracy-light trade with the European Union for a period of up to two years after Brexit. So Britain said it will seek to negotiate a “close association” with the bloc’s customs union after it leaves in March 2019. The Brexit Secretary David Davis said securing an interim customs arrangement would be ‘in both sides’ interest’.
An EU spokesman said the bloc welcomed the U.K.’s detailing of its position as a “positive step” and predicted it would allow the talks to progress. But he added that the EU would only turn to future relations once “we have made sufficient progress on the terms of the orderly withdrawal” and that any agreement “can only be finalized once the U.K. has become a third country.” Divorce talks are set to resume in Brussels on Aug. 28 and the EU’s lead negotiator, Michel Barnier, has complained of a lack of progress in the first two rounds. Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, said much will depend on how much Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is willing to pay to leave the bloc.