Cyprus’ trade with the UK is not expected to be adversely affected in any significant way, including in the event of a hard Brexit, Commerce Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis told lawmakers on Tuesday.
In case of a hard Brexit, World Trade Organization regulations would apply, and it does not appear that tariffs would be imposed on the main exports to the UK – halloumi, potatoes and fruits.
Likewise, no tariffs are anticipated on services.
What might be impacted is the re-export of vehicles, the minister said. The current tax for this activity is 10 per cent.
In the interim, Cyprus cannot on its own strike a separate trade deal with the United Kingdom. Trade matters must be decided jointly among the EU27.
Referring to the British parliament’s approval on Monday of legislation giving lawmakers the power to scrutinise and even change Prime Minister Theresa May’s request that the European Union agree to delay Brexit until June 30, Lakkotrypis said this was a positive development, although it does not altogether rule out a no-deal Brexit happening.
On tourism, Lakkotrypis reiterated the decision for a visa waiver for British nationals visiting Cyprus and staying here for up to 90 days.
More broadly, in the event of an orderly Brexit a two-year transition period would ensue where arrangements would remain the same as today until the future relationship between the UK and the EU is finalised.
The minister said Britain’s future relationship with the bloc could be akin to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada.
In parliament, Akel MP Costas Costa rebuked the government for not having already drafted contingency legislation to prepare for Brexit.