Liam Fox MP: The Trade Bill will provide continuity and security to UK business beyond Brexit
We are establishing trade policy that will benefit the whole of the UK, facilitating global trade and which we hope will have an overwhelmingly positive impact on prosperity in the UK and around the world, says the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox.
This week MPs supported UK businesses and consumers by allowing the UK to set its own independent trade policy, by passing the Trade Bill in the House of Commons.
By ensuring we can leave the Customs Union, the Commons has allowed the UK to determine who we trade with, and on what terms, for the first time in 40 years.
Just yesterday I outlined my immediate trade priorities after Brexit, negotiating new agreements with some of our closest allies; Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and in considering joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the largest trading partnerships in the world.
Soon public consultations will be launched allowing businesses, Devolved and local Government, civil society groups and the public to have their say on these agreements long before any negotiations begin.
But before we can look ahead to new agreements, we must first ensure we continue to benefit from the 40 existing trade agreements we have as a member of the EU.
With the Trade Bill passing this milestone we can approach the EU in a constructive manner to ensure continuity for UK business as well as protection when trade is not being conducted fairly.
By giving the government the powers to transition existing EU trade agreements, we will be able to maintain current levels of access to markets around the world.
That means supporting UK businesses like Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis, who last year secured a £44 million contract to export low-emission busses to Mexico City, ensuring they can continue to trade without disruption with markets the EU already has agreements with.
In addition, with rising global concern over protectionism and unfair trading practices, a key component of the Bill is ensuring the UK is able to defend its industries.
Currently these industries including manufacturing, must refer to the EU Commission where they feel they are being harmed by unfair trade.
The Commission must however first assess the impact of this trade on all 28 member-states, imposing measures in response when a majority of industries across the EU back them. That means UK industries can have their interests outweighed or be forced to accept measures designed to help industries in other countries.
According to industry body, EEF, the manufacturing sector employs 2.6 million people in the UK. Indeed, if current growth in UK manufacturing continues, we will be one of the top-five global manufacturing nations by 2021. It would be absurd therefore for the UK to remain in this system, unable to take the actions we want to support our powerhouse manufacturing sector.
We can now continue to set up a new independent UK Trade Remedies Authority with the powers to investigate and recommend action to defend our industries.
Another key part of the Bill is maintaining continued access for UK companies to the £1.3 trillion of Government contracts in 46 other countries by ensuring the UK remains a member of the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement.
This supports UK companies across a variety of sectors, from services such as accountancy and management consultancy firms supporting major Government projects, to healthcare providers and construction firms.
We have also had extensive conversations with other WTO members in the GPA, and recently published our commitment to retain the mutual access to lucrative Government contracts.
Those MPs supporting the Trade Bill have made the right decision for their constituents and businesses, providing new levels of protection to UK industry whilst ensuring continuity through transitioning EU trade agreements and continuing access to overseas Government contracts.
We are establishing trade policy that will benefit the whole of the UK, facilitating global trade and which we hope will have an overwhelmingly positive impact on prosperity in the UK and around the world.