New inquiry: UK Trade Policy Transparency and Scrutiny

11 May 2018

The International Trade Committee have launched a new inquiry to investigate the appropriate level of transparency and scrutiny of trade strategy and negotiations as the UK begins establishing a post-Brexit trade regime. The Committee will draw on the approaches taken by similar nations and trading blocs to inform its conclusions.

Right balance of flexibility and confidentiality needed

Launching the new inquiry, Committee Chair Angus MacNeil commented:

“Ahead of the UK beginning negotiations on deals with future trading partners it is important we establish what role Parliament, devolved administrations, business and civic society will play in their formulation and ratification.
“Trade deals cannot be an instant reflection of the policy of the Government of the day, they take many years to agree. That is why they must be founded on a consensual basis as far as possible. Equally we must strike the right balance and allow the right levels of flexibility and confidentiality to give the UK the strongest position in negotiations.
“We will be looking at how transparency and scrutiny work in other national and supranational legislatures. At what stage are politicians or civic society consulted, and what level of information are each provided with? Is a mandate for negotiation required and do trade agreements require ratification? Most importantly, how would such mechanisms work in the UK’s political system.”

Send us your views

The Committee invites views on the level of transparency and scrutiny that is appropriate for the Government’s trade policy, including in its overall trade strategy and in individual negotiations.
The Committee seeks submissions on the following questions.

  • Which documents pertaining to trade policy and negotiations should the Government make publicly available – and which should remain confidential?
  • What level of access should Parliament and the devolved administrations and legislatures have to trade policy documents, including trade negotiation texts?
  • How should the Government consult business and civil society groups on trade policy matters, including prospective and on-going trade negotiations?
  • What role should Parliament and devolved administrations and legislatures have in drafting and/or approving the UK's negotiating mandate for trade negotiations?
  • What procedures should be in place for the UK Parliament and devolved administrations/legislatures to scrutinise trade agreements as they are being negotiated?
  • What powers should Parliament and the devolved administrations and legislatures have over the ratification and implementing legislation of UK trade agreements?

The Committee would particularly welcome evidence on lessons that can be learnt from practice in other jurisdictions.

Please use our written submission form to submit your views.

The deadline is Friday 22 June.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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