UK trade in services inquiry launched

23 November 2018

The International Trade Committee launches an inquiry concerning UK trade in services. The inquiry will examine the main barriers faced by UK services exporters, how the UK should seek to liberalise international trade in services, including negotiating international agreements, and potential domestic policy implications. 

The UK is a leading exporter of services, and its service exports increased from £257.9 billion in 2016 to £277 billion in 2017. The World Trade Organization has called trade in services, “the most dynamic segment of world trade”, noting that it has grown more quickly than trade in goods in the last twenty years.

Chair's comments

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

“Whilst the Brexit process has seen much discussion of trade in goods, few would dispute that services are a huge part of the UK economy. From financial services to some of our lesser-known service exports, they ought to be at the heart of any future trade policy.

“In this inquiry, my Committee will examine the implications of the Government’s stated desire to further liberalise global services markets, as well as the barriers currently faced by UK services firms when it comes to exporting. We will also be looking at how goods and services interact.

“Given that the Government appears increasingly reconciled to remaining aligned with EU regulations on trade in goods for the foreseeable future, trade in services looks set to become even more central to realising its post-Brexit ambitions. We look forward to hearing from interested parties on how this might be done, and what potential trade-offs – on domestic policy autonomy, for example – may lie in wait.”

Terms of reference:

The International Trade Committee is launching an inquiry into trade in services. The Committee invites submissions on some or all of the following questions:

  • What are the main barriers faced by UK services exporters?
  • To what extent, and in which sectors, do goods and services exports interact?
  • To what extent should the UK seek to liberalise international trade in services through: preferential trade agreements; plurilateral agreements (e.g. the Trade in Services Agreement, TiSA); and/or through other mechanisms?
  • What approach(es) should the UK take to negotiating market-access commitments across different modes of supply, regulatory disciplines (including on transparency and sector-specific anti-competitive practices) and mutual recognition (e.g. of qualifications) in its international agreements covering trade in services?
  • What other policy tools should the UK Government use to facilitate international trade in services, including both imports and exports?
  • What are the implications of negotiating trade in services agreements for domestic policy autonomy, including for devolved administrations and local government? How should these implications be considered in the development of UK trade policy?

You can submit written evidence through the UK trade in services inquiry page. The deadline for written submissions is 5pm Monday 21 January 2019.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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