Boris Johnson confirmed Britain will begin parallel trade talks after Brexit today.
The Prime Minister said it was “epically likely” that the UK would strike a comprehensive trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020 – when the transition period ends.
But Europe may be the least of his concerns.
According to a recently-released Trade Barrier Index EU countries are some of the most open to trade in the world.
Of the top 20 most open countries, 14 are from the union, with not a single country appearing in the bottom half of the list.
Countries that the PM is looking to woo, however, feature prominently.
US trade talks
The US looks likely to be the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Boris is hedging his bets on a bumper trade deal with the US, saying “we’re going to start building new relationships with friends and partners around the world”.
But according to TBI scores and rankings the US lies a lowly 54th on the list, suggesting a deal may not be forthcoming.
Qatar and the Commonwealth
Elsewhere, countries such as Qatar – which engaged in bilateral talks with the UK September of last year – rank in similarly poor positions compared to its European counterparts.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani said he was “excited” to kick start the talks, which he hoped would bolster the “very strong relationship” which exists between the two nations.
They touched on strengthening strategic relations and bilateral co-operation in various fields of partnership.
But the meeting comes just a year after several Arab countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region.
And countries within the Commonwealth – notably India, South Africa and Sri Lanka – hardly have an enviable position, even though it has been suggested that free trade with the Commonwealth could replace the EU.
Related: MPs rule out Big Ben bong for Brexit