Hopes that the UK and the EU had reached an agreement in principle on the tricky topic of tariff rate quotas (TRQs) have been knocked on the head by an intervention by the United States. The Trump administration is leading a group of countries challenging British plans to retain EU import restrictions on agricultural goods after Brexit. The other six countries who sent a letter to the UK's WTO representative and his EU counterpart were leading agricultural exporters: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand and Uruguay.
New Zealand's former high commissioner in London has given it large on the issue saying that the row would make Brexit look 'like a kids' Christmas party' if access was scaled back.
The risk for the UK is that part of the post-Brexit transition in the WTO it may have to accept opening up access to agricultural goods from third countries far more than it wants, even before it agrees the much vaunted new trade deals with such countries.
The UK has tried to smooth ruffled feathers by saying that the plans would be discussed extensively with partners in the WTO before proceeding. This is the opening stage of a process in which countries have staked out their starting position in what is likely to be a long negotiation.