Wednesday 10 January, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House
- Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG, former UK Ambassador to the EEC and UN
- Lord Price of Sturminster Newton CVO, former Minister of State for Trade Policy
Regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements
The EU is party to some 40 regional or bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), covering around 60 countries; of the UK’s top 50 export markets for goods in 2015, ten are covered by EU trade agreements. The UK will cease to be a party to these EU FTAs after Brexit in March 2019.
The Government has stated that it intends to maintain the current position by replicating the rights that the UK presently enjoys under the EU’s FTAs. The Department for International Trade has said that this is its second priority, after establishing the UK’s position at the World Trade Organization.
Purpose of the session
With these stated objectives in mind, the Committee will hear from Lords Hannay and Price on a number of topics, drawing upon their extensive Government and diplomatic experience.
As well as discussing the UK Government’s approach to grandfathering and how issues such as sequencing and rules of origin in deals with third countries might be addressed when negotiating a UK-EU trade deal, the Committee are expected to seek insight on the interaction between current EU trade policy and future UK trade policy.
Particular areas of interest are how grandfathering fits into the UK’s approach to the wider EU regulatory model, existing EU trade-related agreements, and the prospects for grandfathering the recently-announced EU-Japan trade deal.
Lord Hannay has said that the Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, has “got his priorities wrong” by concentrating on pursuing completely new free trade agreements, which the peer called “overstated will o’ the wisps”. He argued that Dr Fox should instead concentrate “on the humdrum task of ensuring that we continue to enjoy a free trade relationship after Brexit with the 66 non-EU countries with whom we currently have free trade as a result of our EU membership.”
Lord Price stepped down as Minister of State for Trade Policy in September 2017. He has, stated that during his time in government, all the 60 or so countries with an EU trade agreement “have agreed to work on bilateral roll over” following discussions with him.