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Trade between Calais and Dover went into full swing this week after New Year and the transition period ended but concern over trade still remains in Brussels. Despite the two sides agreeing a landmark Brexit deal, the French minister expressed his concern over the loss of trade with the UK. He also took a jab at Brexit Britain as the minister claimed the UK will now be “weaker” in “negotiating good trade deals in the future”.
Speaking this week, Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Franck Riester, claimed the EU must continue its trade with the UK despite the disruption suffered in Calais.
The minister also expressed his fear the UK could become a sizeable competitor in world trade.
New border controls have been imposed at the Calais port following the new agreement.
While the system was working adequately this week, some extra checks were applied to lorries causing them to be stopped.
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The minister warned Brussels must make sure trade with the UK is maintained as opposed to looking for greater economics on the other side of the world.
The minister also mocked the purpose of the UK’s departure from the EU.
Commenting on the reports of slow-moving traffic in Calais, Mr Riester told the BBC: “The idea that, in the future, we are going to trade only with countries on the other side of the world rather than with our neighbours is, in my opinion, completely out of date.
“We believe the UK will be weaker in negotiating good trade deals in the future than when they were in the EU.
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“It is important that the UK does not become an unfair competitor.
“We want it to remain a great partner of France and not a partner who would use unfair means, with state aid, or with divergent standards to the EU.”
Although there will be no tariffs on good sent across the Channel, there will be new regulatory and customs checks.
Following the agreement, Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove, warned businesses the beginning of the year could see some disruption to trade.
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He urged companies to make sure they have the appropriate paperwork when importing and exporting goods between the EU and Great Britain.
Mr Gove said: “The nature of our new relationship with the EU – outside the single market and customs union – means that there are practical and procedural changes that businesses and citizens need to get ready for, and time to make these final preparations is very short.
“We know that there will be some disruption as we adjust to new ways of doing business with the EU, so it is vital that we all take the necessary action now to ensure we are as ready as possible.
“Huge opportunities await us as an outward-looking, free-trading, fully sovereign United Kingdom.”
There had been long queues in Dover and Calais due to the coronavirus pandemic towards the end of the year.
Those disruptions have reduced although experts have claimed movement across the Channel will be reduced.
However, there had been reports of some UK national who live abroad being stopped from returning to countries such as Spain, Holland and Sweden.
Coupled with the pandemic, some residents have been held at Heathrow Airport although the UK Government has revealed it will work closely with respective government to resolve the issue.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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