News article

Brexit: How to trade under WTO rules

16 August 2019

Guidance for trading with other countries if there is no UK trade agreement in place

If there is no trade agreement between the UK and another country after Brexit, you will have to trade with that country under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. This may mean changes for your business operations.

WTO and the Most Favoured Nation rule
WTO rules state that the same trading terms must be applied to all countries, unless there is a trade agreement between two or more countries. This is known as Most Favoured Nation treatment.

This means that the UK cannot offer better trading terms to one country and not another, unless it has a trade agreement that allows it to do so.

Paying tariffs on imported goods into the UK
You may need to pay different rates of tariffs on imports into the UK.

Paying tariffs on exports from the UK
You may need to pay different rates of tariffs on exports from the UK.

The tariffs on your exports will vary by country. Each country decides their own import tariffs. If you are exporting a product to a country that the UK has no trade agreement with, you will pay the tariff rate applied in that country to its imports.

Trading services
To provide services in other countries you will need to follow the terms set out in the legislation of the host country. This includes commitments that the host country applies to all WTO members.

Further information
You can find out more about trading under WTO rules and sign up for email alerts on the GOV.UK website.