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‘A collective sigh of relief’: The world reacts to Brexit trade deal

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Britain clinched a Brexit trade deal with the European Union on Thursday, just seven days before it exits one of the world’s biggest trading blocs in its most significant global shift since the loss of empire.

Here are some of the reactions.

Key players:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she expects Germany will be able to decide quickly whether to back the deal.

“The federal government will now closely examine the text of the agreement. But we are not starting at zero. The Commission has kept the member states in the loop during the entirely negotiation process,” she said.

Organizations:

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium:

“After years of campaigning for zero-tariff trade, we welcome the announcement of a free-trade agreement between the UK and EU. This protects consumers on both sides of the Channel from billions in import tariffs on everyday goods. Given that four-fifths of UK food imports come from the EU, today’s announcement should afford households around the UK a collective sigh of relief.”

Ian Wright, chief executive of the UK’s Food and Drink Federation:

“The Prime Minister promised UK businesses over a year of transition in which to adapt to a new set of rules. He has delivered us four working days. Food and drink manufacturers will do their best to keep food flowing. However, this week’s chaos at Dover and the last gasp nature of this deal means that there will be significant disruption to supply and some prices will rise. Disappointed shoppers and consumers will rightly ask why a deal had to take so long.”

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

“Businesses are aware this may not be the all-encompassing deal that was promised at the beginning of this venture. It’s important that both sides continue to be open minded to a need for future discussions, to ensure the best possible trade and access to goods and services in the years to come. Ensuring London remains a leading world city will require the best possible terms of trade.”

Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK manufacturers’ trade body:

“Industry will cautiously welcome the Government’s Christmas present of a provisional trade agreement that avoids the catastrophe of no deal; tariffs and quotas would have been a disaster for exporters but we will need to go through this with a fine tooth comb to understand exactly what the impact on manufacturers will be.”

Paul Everitt, chief executive of the ADS aerospace industry group:

“We recognize the deal does not meet all our ambitions and will examine the full legal text to ensure priority areas including aviation safety and chemicals regulation, customs and border control, and Northern Ireland are appropriately addressed

Companies:

Airbus welcomed the news and said in a statement it was pleased the potential disruption from a no-deal scenario had been avoided.

Politicians:

Former British prime minister Theresa May:

“Very welcome news that the UK & EU have reached agreement on the terms of a deal – one that provides confidence to business and helps keep trade flowing. Looking forward to seeing the detail in the coming days.”

Dutch Foreign minister Stef Blok said in a statement the Netherlands would “carefully study the draft texts”, especially agreements on a level playing field between the EU and the UK, the access of Dutch fishers to British waters and the governance of the agreement.

“There is very little time to do this. Before a decision is made in Brussels, the government will send an initial assessment of the agreement to parliament, so that it has an opportunity to discuss the agreement.”

Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa:

“We warmly welcome the agreement reached with the United Kingdom on the relationship with the EU from 1 January. UK will remain, in addition to our neighbor and ally, an important partner.”

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