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Heiko Maas: UK must pledge ‘zero unfair competition’ to get ‘zero tariffs’ Brexit trade deal

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas Maas expressed his wish for a new partnership “as close as possible” between the U.K. and the EU. | Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

Heiko Maas: UK must pledge ‘zero unfair competition’ to get ‘zero tariffs’ Brexit trade deal

German Foreign minister says consumers and the environment must not be neglected by a post-Brexit trade agreement.

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1/29/20, 10:43 AM CET

Updated 1/29/20, 12:32 PM CET

Punishing the U.K. for Brexit would be a “grave mistake,” but the EU will need to be “politically wise and fair” in the next stage of negotiations “in a way that wouldn’t harm the European Union,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said.

In an open letter to the British people, published today, Maas writes: “Yes, we all want zero tariffs and zero trade barriers, but that also means zero dumping and zero unfair competition. Without similar standards to protect our workers, our consumers and the environment, there can be no full access to the largest single market in the world.”

He also warns that time is short to agree on a deal, calling it a “Herculean task,” while the list of things to negotiate is long, including “free trade, fair competition, visa-free travel, work and travel opportunities, university exchanges, protections against terrorism and organised crime, management of international crises.”

Acknowledging that “things haven’t always been easy, especially since the Brexit referendum,” Maas expresses his wish for a new partnership “as close as possible” between the U.K. and the EU. “Ultimately, we share this continent and also the same European values.”

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