International Trade Committee launches inquiry into trade with developing countries

18 December 2017

The International Trade Committee launches a new inquiry into the UK’s future trade relationships with developing countries, particularly those in the Commonwealth. It is the second in a series of inquiries examining the potential for new trade relationships with members of the Commonwealth.

Trade preference schemes

The UK currently grants unilateral trade preferences to developing countries through the EU’s general scheme of preferences. In addition, it also trades with some developing countries under the terms of the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements.

The Government had said that it will introduce its own unilateral trade preference schemes after Brexit and the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill, which was recently introduced to Parliament, provides the legislative framework for it do so. It has also said that it will seek replicate the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements.

Launching the inquiry, Committee Chair Angus Brendan MacNeil MP said:

"When the UK leaves the EU, it will have a variety of options with respect to its future trading relationships with developing countries. We know that the Government plans to establish a unilateral trade preferences scheme, and that it plans to replicate the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements.

However, there are a number of key questions for the Committee to consider, including what preferences should be given to developing countries after Brexit, and whether Economic Partnership Agreements are the most effective way to support development through trade.

There are also questions around how the Government can best support Foreign Direct Investment in developing countries, and how it can help UK exporters to access these markets. Our inquiry will seek to explore these questions, and I hope that the Committee receives a wide range of evidence on these important issues.”

Terms of reference:

The Committee invites written evidence on the following questions:

  • Should the UK seek to replicate or modify the unilateral trade preferences it currently grants Least Developed Countries after Brexit?
  • Should the UK seek to replicate or modify the unilateral trade preferences it currently grants other developing countries and after Brexit?
  • Are Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) effective from both a trade and development perspective?
  • How should the UK approach its relationship with countries with whom it currently has an EPA after Brexit?
  • Should the UK make particular arrangements for trade with developing countries that are members of the Commonwealth?
  • In what other ways might the UK seek to support development through trade?
  • In what ways might the UK coordinate its trade policy with other policies (e.g. development assistance) in order to support development?
  • What are the biggest challenges for UK exporters wishing to access markets in developing countries and what government support do they need? How effective is the support that the Government currently provides?
  • How can the Government best promote and support UK Foreign Direct Investment in developing countries?

Written evidence can be submitted through the trade and the Commonwealth: developing countries inquiry page. The deadline for written submissions is Friday 16 February 2018.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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