LONDON (Reuters) -Britain and Ghana are close to announcing an agreement on post-Brexit trade but a deal will not take effect in time to prevent a period of operating on default terms, a source close to the negotiation said on Thursday.
Once active, the deal will replicate the terms of trade Britain previously benefitted from as a member of the European Union. EU trade rules will cease to apply to Britain from Jan. 1 when it completes its exit from the bloc.
Ahead of that deadline Britain has signed "continuity" agreements with 63 countries to safeguard terms on 885 billion pounds ($1.21 trillion) of trade, including partners like Canada and Switzerland.
But with no prospect of a deal being reached in time for Ghana, imports will temporarily be subject to Britain's Generalised Scheme of Preferences - a framework that applies import tariffs at reduced rates on developing countries.
Britain's exports to Ghana would continue to be subject to World Trade Organisation tariffs.
"Today we've reached consensus on the main elements of a deal with Ghana, covering over 1.2 billion pounds of trade," Britain's Trade Secretary Liz Truss wrote later on Twitter, confirming the details from the source.
"We are working to achieve full agreement very shortly."
Truss said the two sides hoped to finalise the text of an agreement over the next few weeks to reflect the progress made on rules of origin, commitments to human rights and good governance, and other areas.
Official data shows Britain exported goods and services worth 722 million pounds to Ghana in 2019, and imported 498 million pounds of goods: mostly oil, fish, cocoa and fruit.
The government was due to publish legislation implementing all its continuity trade agreements later on Thursday, accounting for 97% of the trade it sought to protect. Other deals still outstanding include Albania and Jordan.
($1 = 0.7324 pounds)
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Jonathan Oatis)