Wales politics

Brexit: Real danger of trade tariffs, Carwyn Jones warns

Carwyn Jones
Image caption Carwyn Jones warned it would take many years to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU

The first minister has said there is a "real danger" Welsh firms could face tariff barriers for a period of time after Brexit.

Carwyn Jones told AMs the UK no longer had any expertise in negotiating trade agreements, which would take time.

He suspected any EU trade deal involving free movement of people would be "problematic" for pro-Leave voters.

Mr Jones backed a UK-wide approach to talks, but urged UK ministers to decide on their own collective view first.

"Free movement of people was clearly an issue for people in the referendum," the first minister said, giving evidence to the assembly's external affairs committee on Monday.

"On that basis, at the very least, we need to be looking at either a customs union or a specific free-trade agreement."

However, he added: "The problem is the UK has no expertise in negotiating free trade agreements - the people are not there at the moment to do this.

"It will take many years to negotiate such an agreement [with the EU].

"There is a real danger that we might end up with a situation where, for a period of time, we have tariffs - and that's something we need to avoid."

Mr Jones said he was particularly keen to ensure free access to global markets for Welsh manufacturers.

But he warned the idea of a free-trade deal with New Zealand, for example, would be bad for Welsh farmers.

The first minister said his ultimate aim was to ensure the interests of Wales were protected under any UK negotiations with the EU.

But he added: "We do need to have some idea now of what the UK government's collective view will be.

"There are hard Brexiteers and there are soft Brexiteers.

"What's important is that there is a now a collective UK government view that we can then discuss with them, with a view to coming to a collective view as four UK administrations."

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