COMMONS

Secretary of State questioned on the work of the Department

05 December 2018

The International Trade Committee holds its latest evidence session for its inquiry into the work of the Department for International Trade. In this session, the Committee will question Dr Fox on the work of his Department across a range of areas – including Brexit preparations.

Witness

Wednesday 5 December, Wilson Room, Portcullis House

At 10.00am

  • Dr Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade and President, Board of Trade

Brexit deal

Ahead of the House of Commons vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the Framework for the Future Relationship, which were agreed at the recent European Council meeting, the Committee will question the Secretary of State on how far the Brexit deal will limit his ability to negotiate and implement Free Trade Agreements with countries outside of the EU.

The Committee is also expected to question the Secretary of State on the progress his Department is making with ensuring continuity after Brexit of the EU’s trade agreements – which cover around 70 countries. The Minister for Trade Policy, George Hollingbery MP, told the Committee last week that not all agreements would be rolled-over in time for Brexit.

UK’s membership of the World Trade Organization

In addition, MPs are likely to question Dr Fox on establishing the terms of the UK’s membership of the World Trade Organization and gaining UK accession to the international agreement that governs bidding for government contracts.

The Committee is also expected to seek updates from the Secretary of State on matters relating to current and recent inquiries, concerning: the setting up of the new Trade Remedies Authority, which will deal with unfair trading practices; its efforts to attract foreign investment; and the roles that Parliament, the devolved governments and others will play in negotiating and agreeing future trade deals.

Chair's comments

Committee chair Angus Brendan MacNeil MP said:

“The Secretary of State has said that he supports the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. But there’s a widespread view that the deal would actually leave him and his Department with little to do, as it would constrain the UK’s ability to strike trade deals – which is the stated raison d’être of the Department for International Trade, after all.”

“More immediately, we will be looking for an update from Dr Fox on the roll-over of the many trade agreements from which we currently benefit as an EU member state. The Minister for Trade Policy told us last week that they wouldn’t all be ready in time for Brexit, which is contrary to Dr Fox’s previous statement that up to 40 agreements would be rolled over at “one second after midnight in March 2019”.

Further information

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