COMMONS

Government Response to continuing application of EU trade agreements published

15 May 2018

The International Trade Committee publishes he Government’s response to its report on the continuing application of EU trade agreements after Brexit. 

Committee report

The Committee’s report, published in March, warned that trade with 70 nations risks falling off a cliff if the Government does not act quickly to ensure roll-over of EU trade deals. It called on the Department for International Trade to produce "a legally watertight and practically viable strategy" to achieve "transitional adoption" of trade agreements to which the UK is currently party through its membership of the EU.

The Committee also found that the Government still needs to work out a number of important details before continuity can be achieved – and businesses, consumers, and investors need certainty on what will happen to the trade deals as a matter of urgency.

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Angus MacNeil commented:

“The speed of response has at least improved since our last report, but otherwise it is hard not to view this latest reply from the Department for International Trade as a disappointment. Our report set out clearly the need for confidence that existing trade agreements which the UK is party to thanks to its EU membership can be rolled over after Brexit. We emphasised that unless agreement is reached with our trading partners in the coming months, a significant economic price will have to be paid.

“Unfortunately, this response offers little in the way of confidence, nor much evidence that urgently-needed contingency plans have been made by the Government. Many of our practical recommendations, including the publication of a detailed timetable for avoiding a cliff-edge, and the development of risk registers, are acknowledged only in passing or ignored altogether.

“In publishing our report, we warned against naivety on the part of Government in simply assuming that verbal agreements to maintain the status quo represent watertight legal guarantees. As Brexit draws ever closer, the lack of substantive detail contained in this response appears less naïve, and more neglectful of issues that are of critical importance to UK businesses, consumers and trading partners alike.”

Further information

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