The international trade union movement is facing its biggest test yet as the World Trade Organization (WTO) moves to impose an international trade tribunal against the UK.
The court is due to make its decision by the end of June.
It is the first time the tribunal has been set up to handle international trade cases.
But the ruling could also be a setback for the industry.
A majority of WTO members oppose the ruling and are considering appealing.
The trade tribunal will also hear from the UK’s trade representative, who could be the only person from the EU to speak on behalf of the UK in the case.
A number of industries are already facing delays in receiving export licences for their products, due to the decision.
“We’re really concerned that the tribunal will be the last step in the process that we’ve been looking for,” said Matthew Elliott, director of trade policy at the Institute of Directors.
‘Unfortunate’ The World Trade Organisation (WTA) is currently considering whether the UK should be granted a new trade deal with the EU.
The organisation is set to hear from experts from the European Commission, which is the EU’s executive body, about the future of trade talks between the UK and the EU as part of a series of bilateral trade deals between the two sides.
The EU has said it will take the decision in its annual trade review in July, which could be a major milestone in the negotiations for the new trade deals.
However, the decision could be blocked by the WTO and the UK could lose out on future opportunities in the EU market.
“[The tribunal] is unfortunate,” said Elliott.
“It’s the last chance that the UK can actually negotiate on behalf, and that’s not good enough.”
The UK’s Trade and Investment Secretary Liam Fox said the UK had made “many concessions” to get access to the European market, but that the WTO’s decision would have no bearing on any future trade talks.
EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, meanwhile, said the tribunal’s ruling was “not just a defeat for UK consumers, but for European workers, for our international competitiveness and for the economy”.
“Today’s decision will make it harder for us to meet our trade commitments to our European partners,” she said.
UK trade minister Liam Fox (L) and the trade secretary Cecilia Morceaux (R) hold a joint news conference after the conclusion of the EU-UK trade negotiations in Brussels on September 28, 2018.