British businesses conducting international trade and transferring their funds cross border regularly are increasingly worried about Brexit and the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Boris Johnson has been warned that the current trade talks are failing and that he needs to press the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, and EU governments to focus their attention on the negotiations in order to reach an agreement with the British government.

The prime minister has returned to Downing Street on Monday, and he needs to act fast in order to rescue the negotiations before 31 December when the UK will leave the single market and customs union. Both the British government and the EU have agreed that they need to see progress by June, while the UK government has said that there is a possibility to leave the EU without a deal.

The two sides will be meeting again on 30 April. The UK’s chief negotiator David Frost has rejected an extension of the transition period as the government is confident that it can agree on a free-trade deal.

The prospect of no-deal Brexit

However, the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal has become even more real as there are only two rounds of video-conference talks left, while senior figures from both sides agree that delivering a deal is now highly unlikely. An EU official has also noted the added problems of having to communicate online: “You don’t see all the faces of the people around the table; you don’t see the body language, you cannot have discussion in the margins. But having said that, this is how we are working now; we need to make the best of it.”

Last week’s talks have not been progressing successfully either, as there was disagreement between the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his British counterpart, David Frost. Barnier pointed out that UK officials failed to engage and instead “listened politely” to the EU’s proposals. As he said: “I regret it, and this worries me.” According to the UK, despite their commitments to maintain high standards, the EU rejected proposals regarding the removal of certain trade barriers. Additionally, the UK disagrees with the central role that the European court of justice will play in dispute settlements.

In regards to the issue of Northern Ireland, there are concerns whether the UK will implement the Northern Ireland protocol  in the withdrawal agreement in order to avoid a hard border in Ireland and maintain checks on goods travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland. An EU official said: “You need to have customs checks on goods arriving in Northern Ireland, veterinary controls, a VAT system needs to be put in place.”

UK government not seeking an extension

The UK government has warned EU leaders that they need to change their position if there is going to be a post-Brexit trade deal. The PM believes that there will not be an agreement unless the EU recognises the UK as “an independent state.”

Michael Gove, Cabinet Office minister, has also told MPs that the government will not seek an extension to the transition period, which ends on December 31. He said that extending the period will only force Britain to make a financial contribution to the EU budget which “could be spent on our NHS.” He added that the EU has failed to recognise the UK’s unique status and instead has treated Britain “like the Ukraine,” as if it were a country seeking closer relations with the bloc.

 

If you are a business transferring funds across Europe and are worried about your payments, protecting your funds due to unexpected currency movements and securing the best exchange rates, get in touch with Universal Partners FX. UPFX’s currency specialists will help you navigate the market and can secure the most competitive exchange rates. Give them a call today or get a free quote.

After over three and a half years of talking, fighting, delays and fearmongering, Brexit is going to happen on 31st January.

This is a cause for celebration for some, but for others it represents the start of great uncertainty – or worse still – the start of decades of decline for the UK. This may come down to the deal that we agree, or if there is a deal at all.

Which way it goes will still be debated and argued over the years to come, but what will happen after 31st January when Brexit is confirmed?

The Brexit deal

Firstly, let’s take a look at the key points of the deal itself. Currently being examined by the House of Lords, the main issues involve travel, money, health, the rights of citizens and of course, trade. The policies set out in the deal will potentially affect currency which can then further impact such things as property prices.

The main focus of the deal is to leave the EU customs union, meaning that the UK will have the freedom to establish their own trade deals with countries around the world.

A significant sticking point was determining how Northern Ireland would be affected, with Boris Johnson eventually replacing the Irish backstop with a new agreement that will begin in December 2020, after the transition period has ended. In summary, this includes a customs declaration system for goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, as well as continued access to the UK market for businesses. Northern Ireland also have the option to vote on their continued membership in this deal four years after the transition period.

Travel

After January 31st, travel plans for UK citizens travelling to EU countries will not be affected.

ABTA, the travel industry’s trade association has said: "If Parliament ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement before 31 January 2020, which it is on track to do, the UK will enter a transition period, meaning everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now until at least the end of December 2020."

After the transition, a visa similar to the American ESTA will be introduced, expecting to cost around £6 and last for a number of years.

All transport entering the EU, including ferries and cruise ships will not be affected but there may be an additional driving permit if you wish to use your own vehicle within your UK insurance policy in the EU.

Money

Savings are not expected to be affected after Brexit due to all bank trading agreements bought from EU firms being protected by the transition period. There may a short-term gain for savers if interest rates are increased when the Conservative Budget is announced next month.

However, British retirees living abroad may have their pension payments frozen, not benefiting from the EU payment increase, which is based on either inflation, wage increases or 2.5% - whichever is highest. On top of that, those living in the EU and being paid in GBP may lose earnings if the pound falls after Brexit.Property

With house prices showing an increase from November to December last year, estate agents are optimistic that Brexit will finally end the uncertainty that had led to prices stagnating – and falling in some areas - in the UK.

Even with renewed confidence, the February Budget could affect the market, with the potential for reforms for first-time buyers. No-deal is still a slight possibility, so foreign investors will be keeping a close eye on negotiations before parting with their money.

Most estate agents say that surveys have shown that potential buyers generally have overestimated the impact of Brexit so far, and with the political climate much calmer, expect buyers who were holding back to come forward in 2020.

Rental prices are forecasted to rise, due mainly to the lack of rental options on the market.

Currency

The value of the pound can go either way, with a lot of experts claiming the volatility of the past 3 years will calm and the pound will be more stable. Since the start of negotiations, the strength of the pound has been linked to a clean break that protected business, whereas the chaos of a no-deal Brexit has sent the pound down in value. Since the general election result, the pound has rallied due to investors being more comfortable with the prospect of a strong majority Conservative government.

However, with a lot to be done by the end of the transition period – including crucial trade agreements with the EU itself – there could still be choppy waters ahead for GBP. In fact, just this week it was revealed that there are fundamental disagreements between the EU and UK that will almost certainly require more than eight months of negotiations, which formally begin in March.

Trade negotiations

The obvious reason for any difficulties in the negotiations is that the EU believe that the UK should continue to follow some of the EU regulations in order to secure a free-trade agreement. This is mainly due to EU members, including France, asking for a level playing field to be maintained. Trade-offs will likely come into play as the transition period progresses, with a report recently claiming that the UK will allow EU fleets to fish in their waters if bankers and financiers are allowed favourable access to the EU financial markets. The issue with such trade-offs is that invariably they will affect certain demographics unfavourably, which can lead to more stand-offs. With such a tight deadline any significant delays could be disastrous and can bring the no-deal prospect back into the reckoning.

If you require any guidance on your currency exchange during this crucial step of Brexit, reach out to Universal Partners FX; a specialist in delivering expert guidance and the best possible rates for those dealing with foreign currency.