Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 14 July 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for International Trade)
Commons

Negotiations on the UK’s future trading relationship with Australia: Update

Trade negotiators from the UK and Australia held the first round of negotiations for a UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between 29 June and 10 July 2020.

We are now one step closer to an ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreement with one of our oldest friends. An FTA with Australia can bring investment, better jobs, higher wages and lower prices just when we need them the most.

Both teams of negotiators recognised the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in and reiterated that more global trade is essential to support post-Covid economic recovery.

Negotiations were conducted virtually and covered discussions on all areas of a comprehensive trade agreement.

The discussions covered the following areas:

  • Anti-Corruption and Transparency
  • Competition
  • Cross-cutting general provisions
  • Customs
  • Digital/e-commerce
  • Environment
  • Financial Services
  • Trade in Goods and Trade Remedies
  • Good Regulatory Practice
  • Intellectual Property
  • Investment
  • Labour
  • Procurement
  • Rules of Origin
  • Services, including Movement of Natural Persons and Professional Business Services
  • Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
  • State Owned Enterprises
  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
  • State to State Dispute Settlement
  • Technical Barriers to Trade
  • Telecommunications

We also had positive exploratory discussions on Clean Growth, Development, Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Innovation.

Discussions between negotiators were productive and reflected our shared ambition to secure a comprehensive deal to boost trade and investment between our like-minded economies.

Teams discussed their respective objectives and agreed a forward plan for future talks. Our positive discussions in round one have laid the groundwork for the UK and Australia to achieve high-quality outcomes across the agreement.

The UK and Australia are aligned in many areas which will enable us to make quick progress across many chapters. In discussions, both countries emphasised a desire to be particularly ambitious in areas including services, digital trade and in supporting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to benefit from the opportunities that increased trade provide.

The Government is committed to negotiating a comprehensive agreement with Australia and we look forward to making further progress. We will explore the option of face-to-face negotiations when it is safe to do so. The Government will make its next statement on progress following the second round of talks, currently planned for September.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS356
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 07 July 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for International Trade)
Commons

Trade Update

I want to update the House on the steps that have been taken to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal of 20 June 2019 regarding licences for military exports to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.

The legal proceedings concerned the decisions of the then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills of 9 December 2015:

  • Not to suspend extant export licences for the sale or transfer of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen; and
  • To continue to grant further such licences.

The legal proceedings concerned Criterion 2c of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria – which requires the Government to assess Saudi Arabia’s attitude towards relevant principles of international law and provides that the Government will not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law (IHL).

The Divisional Court found in favour of the Government in its judgment of July 2017, noting that we applied a rigorous and robust, multi-layered process of analysis to making our licensing decisions. Our approach has focused on a predictive evaluation of risk as to the attitude and future conduct of the Saudi-led coalition, recognising the inherent difficulties of seeking to reach findings on IHL for specific incidents where we do not have access to complete information. Even so, this analysis has always incorporated a detailed and careful review of past allegations of incidents of concern. This included analysis, to the extent possible, of whether there were patterns of concern, in particular arising from trends in the number of allegations of civilian casualties and of damage to key civilian infrastructure. The Court of Appeal broadly endorsed this decision-making process.

The principal issue in the Court of Appeal was whether this analysis needed to go further. In the Court’s judgment, the question of whether there was an historic pattern of breaches of IHL was a question which required to be faced. Even if it could not be answered with reasonable confidence for every incident, at least the attempt had to be made. It was because we had not reached findings on whether specific incidents constituted breaches of IHL as part of our assessment of clear risk, under Criterion 2c, that the Court of Appeal concluded that our decision-making process was irrational and therefore unlawful.

To address the Court of Appeal’s judgment, we have developed a revised methodology in respect of all allegations which it is assessed are likely to have occurred and to have been caused by fixed wing aircraft, reflecting the factual circumstances that the court proceedings concerned. Each of those allegations has been subject to detailed analysis by reference to the relevant principles of IHL and in the light of all the information and intelligence available. An evaluation has then been made, in respect of each incident, whether it is possible that it constitutes a breach of IHL or whether it is unlikely that it represents a breach. For a number of incidents, as envisaged by the Court of Appeal, there is insufficient information to make this evaluation. Where an incident is assessed as being a “possible” breach, it is regarded – for the purposes of the Criterion 2c analysis – as if it were a breach of IHL. By setting the threshold as “possible” the IHL analysis has captured the widest range of relevant potential IHL breaches, to provide a base from which to assess the prospective risk for Criterion 2c.

The IHL analysis has now been applied to all credible incidents of concern of which we are aware. Some of these incidents have been assessed as “possible” violations of IHL. These have therefore been factored into the overall Criterion 2c Analysis on the basis that they are violations of IHL.

We have sought to determine whether these “violations” are indicative of:

(i) any patterns of non-compliance;

(ii) a lack of commitment on the part of Saudi Arabia to comply with IHL; and/or

(iii) a lack of capacity or systemic weaknesses which might give rise to a clear risk of IHL breaches.

We have similarly looked for patterns and trends across the incidents which have been assessed as being unlikely to be breaches of IHL and those for which there is insufficient information to make an assessment.

This analysis has not revealed any such patterns, trends or systemic weaknesses. It is noted, in particular, that the incidents which have been assessed to be possible violations of IHL occurred at different times, in different circumstances and for different reasons. The conclusion is that these are isolated incidents.

I want to emphasise that the IHL analysis is just one part of the Criterion 2c assessment. In re-taking these decisions, I have taken into account the full range of information available to the Government. In the light of all that information and analysis, I have concluded that, notwithstanding the isolated incidents which have been factored into the analysis as historic violations of IHL, Saudi Arabia has a genuine intent and the capacity to comply with IHL.

On that basis, I have assessed that there is not a clear risk that the export of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL.

Having now re-taken the decisions that were the subject of judicial review on the correct legal basis, as required by the Order of the Court of Appeal of 20 June, it follows that the undertaking that my predecessor gave to the Court – that we would not grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen – falls away. The broader commitment that was given to Parliament, relating to licences for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, also no longer applies.

The Government will now begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that has built up since 20 June last year. Each application will, of course, be carefully assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and a licence would not be granted if to do so would be a breach of the Criteria. It may take some months to clear this backlog.

Finally, as indicated in the statement made to the House on 20 June 2019, we sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal’s judgment. Permission was granted by the Court of Appeal on 9 July 2019. In light of the revised methodology which I have just described, I will now be taking steps to withdraw this appeal.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS336
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 30 June 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for International Trade)
Commons

Negotiations on the UK’s Future Trading Relationship with the US: Update

The second UK-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiating round took place from 15-26 June 2020.

Talks continued to be positive and constructive, with progress being made towards a comprehensive agreement. Discussions spanned the majority of areas covered by the FTA, with further sessions coming over the next two weeks on the remaining major policy areas. This follows almost 20 intersessional meetings held in between rounds one and two.

The Government is clear there is no set deadline for this agreement. Any deal the Government strikes must be fair, reciprocal and ultimately in the best interests of the British people and the economy. Furthermore, the Government remains clear on protecting the NHS and not compromising on the UK's high environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards.

During the round, talks advanced across a number of chapters and teams are now into detailed discussions on text.

There was good progress on a dedicated SME chapter. This included agreement that the next formal UK-US SME Dialogue will be held in Boston in October 2020.

UK negotiators also underlined the importance of high ambition on services, with financial services particularly vital to any final agreement.

On professional business services, both sides agreed to go further than existing precedent and agree provisions that reflect the strength of the UK-US relationship. This included a discussion on how best to support regulators pursue closer collaboration on the recognition of qualifications and licencing.

There was also discussion of specific proposals that might benefit the legal services sector.

More work needs to be done and both sides committed in the round to a full programme of engagement ahead of round three. Talks scheduled over the coming weeks include rules of origin, market access, digital, telecoms, intellectual property and business mobility.

The third negotiating round is expected to take place at the end of July.

Below is a summary list of those areas discussed in the round, which continued to take place through video conferencing:

  • General Coordination
  • Trade Remedies
  • Services Sectors – Professional Business Services
  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
  • Services Sectors - Transport
  • Anti-Corruption
  • Competition
  • Cross cutting services
  • Financial Services
  • Good Regulatory Practice (GRP)
  • Customs & Trade Facilitation
  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS)
  • Investment
  • Legal Group - Core Text
  • Sectoral Annexes
  • Environment
  • State Owned Enterprises
  • Technical Barriers to Trade
  • Other issues – including innovation and women’s economic empowerment
  • Economics

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS318
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 17 June 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for International Trade)
Commons

Update on Trade Negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

Today, the Government publishes its approach to trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, as well as providing an update on its approach to accession to Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

New Zealand and Australia rank among our closest friends. We share a language, head of state and a system of common law, and we have a proud shared history. We also have a common set of values. Like the UK, both nations have always stood up for what is right and maintained a fierce belief in the merits of trade openness, the rule of law, international co-operation, and democratic government.

But what we have never had with either is a free trade agreement. That can change now the UK has left the EU. Our future success as a country depends partly on using our new-found status as an independent trading nation to strengthen ties with old allies beyond Europe. Ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreements with old friends like Australia and New Zealand are a powerful way for us to do that and make good on the promise of Brexit.

From a purely economic perspective, deals with both countries can help deliver the things that our people care about – better jobs, higher wages, greater choice, and lower prices.

UK businesses traded £21bn worth of goods and services with Australia and New Zealand combined in 2019. Trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand could increase UK exports to Australia and New Zealand by around £1 billion – with beverages firms, the automotive industry and professional services among those expected to benefit. Opportunities for these agreements include additional access for UK services and investment, removing tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods and the chance to shape the future of digital trade.

An ambitious UK-Australia trade agreement could increase UK GDP by up to £500 million and UK workers’ wages by up to £400 million. It can enable Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to export more goods and services to Australia, building on the 13,400 UK SMEs that already exported goods there in 2018.

A cutting-edge agreement with New Zealand could increase UK workers’ wages by up to £200 million. New Zealand and the UK also share a particular ambition to work together to promote clean growth through trade – a key contribution to a low-carbon economic recovery.

But perhaps more importantly than the pure economics, both these countries are vital to the UK’s future place in the world and our future sovereign capability.

The pandemic has given oxygen to the politics of protectionism across the globe, and to those who advocate closed, statist economies. Trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand are important in helping our country and the world move beyond coronavirus.

Strengthening ties between nations who believe in free trade is a powerful way to defend the principles of open markets and international cooperation, and in doing show that free trade is still the best way forward for the world after coronavirus.

Strategically, our aim is to place the UK at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements, turning our country into a global hub for businesses and investors who want to trade in dynamic areas of the world – especially in the Asia-Pacific.

Pivoting towards the Asia-Pacific will help diversify our trade, make our supply chains more resilient and make the UK less vulnerable to political and economic shocks in certain parts of the world. This economic security is important at a time of increased turbulence and uncertainty in the world.

It will also help us forge a leadership position among a network of countries committed to free trade – and strengthen the club of like-minded democracies who share our commitment to advance trade liberalisation, fight protectionism and defend international rules.

Australia and New Zealand are both big players in the Asia-Pacific and share our commitment to free trade. They are also prominent members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – a club of eleven countries representing 13% of global GDP.

The UK had more than £110 billion-worth of trade in 2019 with the 11 countries in the group and we are determined to increase our trade through membership. CPTPP will help us diversify our trade and join a strong, modern trade agreement between countries committed to free and fair trade in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Both Australia and New Zealand support our membership, and free trade agreements with both countries would be an important step towards our eventual accession.

Today, the Department for International Trade is publishing three documents:

  1. UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement: the UK’s strategic approach
  2. UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement: the UK’s strategic approach
  3. An update on the UK’s position on accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

We will be placing copies in the House libraries. For Australia and New Zealand, these documents include:

  • The Government’s negotiating objectives for each trade agreement
  • A scoping assessment providing a preliminary assessment of the potential long-term economic impacts for each agreement
  • The Government’s response to the public consultations on each agreement, setting out how these have informed our policy development.

As with our whole trade agreement programme, these agreements need to work for the UK. We have been clear that future agreements with Australia and New Zealand must work for UK consumers, producers and companies. We remain committed to upholding our high environmental, labour, food safety and animal welfare standards in our trade agreements with these countries. The Government has been clear that when we are negotiating trade agreements, we will protect the National Health Service (NHS). Our objectives reinforce this.

We are engaging with the devolved administrations, crown dependencies and overseas territories to ensure that we develop agreements that works for the whole of the UK. The Government is committed to transparency and we will continue to ensure that parliamentarians, businesses, and the range of civil society stakeholders have access to information on our trade negotiations.

Negotiations with Australia and New Zealand will be carried out by video conference, ensuring that talks can progress during the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to conduct talks remotely until it is safe to conduct talks in person.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS293
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 19 May 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for Department for International Trade)
Commons

Trade policy update

As we recover from the unprecedented economic challenges posed by coronavirus, the UK will champion free trade, fight protectionism and remove trade barriers.

The Government has this morning (19 May) announced its new tariff regime - the UK Global Tariff (UKGT). This will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff on 1 January 2021 at the end of the transition period.

Our new tariff is tailored to the needs of the UK economy. It will support the country, by making it easier and cheaper for businesses to import goods from overseas.

It is a simpler, easier to use and lower tariff regime than the EU’s Common External Tariff (EU’s CET) and will be in pounds, not euros. It will scrap red tape and other unnecessary barriers to trade, reduce cost pressures and increase choice for consumers. It will also back UK industries to compete on the global stage.

The UKGT almost doubles the number of products that are tariff free relative to what is currently applied - with just under 50% of products now zero, compared to 27% in the EU’s CET.

The UKGT will make it easier for businesses to trade

  • Our tariff will be in pounds - not euros. Paid in pounds, calculated in pounds, this is a stable tariff for UK traders.
  • Our tariff cuts administrative costs for businesses. We are getting rid of needless tariffs which create administrative burdens. All tariffs below 2% are gone (e.g. fire extinguishers, school pencils and gardening tools, from 1.7% to 0%).
  • Our tariff is simpler to use. We will round tariffs down, making them simpler for traders to use (e.g. reading glasses from 2.9% to 2% and alarm clocks from 4.7% to 4%). We will also scrap the complex calculation - which results in over 13,000 tariff variations on products like biscuits, confectionery, and spreads - applied under the EU’s CET.
  • The UKGT will back UK manufacturing and production. We are dropping tariffs to zero across a wide range of products used in UK production (e.g. tools for tapping and threading metal move from 2.7% to 0%, and spanners and wrenches from 1.7% to 0%).
  • The UKGT will reduce cost pressures and increase choice for UK households. Tariffs have been removed on products that we do not produce, or do not produce much of in the UK. Removing these tariffs will reduce cost pressures for UK households and businesses (e.g. pistachios from 1.6% to 0% and cotton yarn from 4% to 0%).
  • Our tariff will protect developing countries. Tariffs have been retained on goods such as vanilla (6%), plantains (16%) and bed linen (12%) to support the preferential access of developing countries to the UK market.
  • We are cutting tariffs on over 100 products to back renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon capture, and the circular economy through recycling and reducing single use plastics (e.g. thermostats from 2.1% to 0%, vacuum flasks from 6.7% to 0% and LED lamps from 3.7% to 0%).

The UKGT also retains tariffs on products across UK industries and sectors to help them compete on the global stage. Tariffs on products such as lamb, beef and poultry and finished cars will all see their tariff retained.

The Government has developed and tailored the UKGT to the needs of the whole UK economy. It was designed following a public consultation, which gave individuals and businesses across the UK an opportunity to provide their views and feedback. The Department for International Trade organised events with businesses and experts across the UK, including in the English regions and devolved nations, during the consultation process. The consultation received more than 1,300 responses.

The Government carefully considered all available evidence, including the consultation responses, in the development of the UKGT.

The summary of consultation responses and the Government’s response can be found on GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-uk-global-tariff. Copies will be placed in the House libraries.

For the first time in almost fifty years, the UK has set its own tariff schedule, aimed at boosting prosperity, supporting British industry, making it easier to bring goods into the UK and reducing cost pressures for consumers.

The full schedule can be found on GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-tariffs-from-1-january-2021.

WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 18 May 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for Department for International Trade)
Commons

Negotiations on the UK’s future trading relationship with the US: Update

Around 200 negotiators from the UK and the US held the first round of negotiations for a UK-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between 5-15 May 2020.

More trade is essential if the UK is to overcome the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19. New FTAs will be an important factor in facing that economic challenge, providing new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs who have faced significant challenges in this difficult period. An FTA with the US can help create opportunities for UK businesses, provide better jobs and boost the economy in every part of the country.

Both sides are hopeful that negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement can proceed at an accelerated pace. Ambassador Lighthizer and I agreed that a second virtual round will take place in the weeks of 15 and 22 June, and that in advance of that negotiating teams will continue their work and meet virtually on a rolling basis, with meetings continuing throughout this week and beyond.

Negotiations over the past two weeks were conducted virtually but proceeded efficiently, with UK and US negotiators participating in extensive discussions in nearly 30 different negotiating groups covering all aspects of a comprehensive trade agreement. The discussions covered the following workstreams:

  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
  • Legal Group – Disputes
  • Trade Remedies
  • Rules of Origin
  • Investment
  • Legal Group – Core Text
  • Technical Barriers to Trade
  • Competition
  • Digital
  • Telecoms
  • Economics
  • Customs
  • Sectoral Annexes
  • Cross cutting services
  • Market Access for Goods, Overarching and Industrial Goods
  • Good Regulatory Practice (GRP)
  • Financial Services
  • Sustainability, Environment and Labour
  • General Coordination
  • Market Access for Goods, Agriculture
  • State Owned Enterprises
  • Services Sectors
  • Intellectual Property
  • Procurement
  • Sustainability, Anti-Corruption
  • Market Access for Goods, Textiles
  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS)
  • Subsidies

The meetings were positive and constructive, reflecting the mutual commitment to secure an ambitious agreement that significantly boosts trade and investment between our economies, the first and fifth largest in the world.

Both sides recognised the unprecedented circumstances in which these negotiations took place, with significant emphasis placed on supporting the post-Covid economic recovery.

During the meetings, the teams discussed their respective objectives and agreed on ambitious next steps for coming talks. Our preparatory work makes it possible for the UK and United States to quickly advance negotiations in a number of substantive areas that will shape our future bilateral trade relationship.

A number of areas showed particular progress, including where both teams identified positive alignment between respective negotiating positions. They identified a mutually high ambition for services, investment and digital trade, among other areas.

Both sides also set out a mutual commitment to creating new opportunities for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic and to delivering benefits for workers, consumers and farmers. This includes the confirmation that both sides will quickly pursue a standalone Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Chapter and will continue the UK-US SME Dialogue.

In the same manner as this negotiating round, discussions in the second round will cover all areas to be included in a Free Trade Agreement.

The Government is committed to negotiating a comprehensive agreement with the US and we look forward to making further progress at the next round of negotiations. The Government will make a further statement on progress following the second round of talks.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS235
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 13 May 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for Department of International Trade)
Commons

The UK’s approach to Negotiations with Japan

Coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced in decades. The Government is doing all it can to protect business from the worst effects of coronavirus in the immediate term. We must take steps to support our economy, reduce impacts and provide opportunities for the future economic recovery.

More trade is essential if the UK is to overcome the unprecedented economic challenge posed by coronavirus. It can give us security at home and opportunities abroad – opening new markets for business, bringing investment, better jobs, higher wages and lower prices just as we need them most. At a time when protectionist barriers are on the rise, all countries need to work together to ensure long-term prosperity and international trade is central to this cooperation.

That is why we will use our voice as a new independent trading nation to champion free trade, fight protectionism and remove barriers at every opportunity. The Government’s ambition is to secure free trade agreements (FTAs) with countries covering 80% of UK trade within the next three years, to become a truly Global Britain.

An enhanced FTA with Japan, the 3rd largest economy in the world in 2018, represents significant opportunities throughout the economy, from agriculture to digital. It will also help us increase the resilience of our supply chains and the security of our whole economy as we diversify our trade.

A deal with Japan will be a driving force to maximise the UK’s advantage in the opportunities Asia Pacific affords. These bilateral negotiations are a logical first step to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), given that Japan is CPTPP’s largest economy.

Japan is a developed economy with high standards and we are major investors in each other’s economies. Trade with Japan is integral to UK jobs and businesses. In 2018, around 9,500 VAT registered businesses exported £6bn worth of goods to Japan, employing 2.4 million people. Around 6,700 VAT registered business, employing 2.5 million people, imported £10bn worth of goods from Japan.

An enhanced FTA with Japan is therefore expected to deliver a significant and sustained long term boost to every region in the UK. Our analysis shows that in the long run, the UK economy could benefit from a £1.5 billion boost, as the trade deal could increase trade flows between both countries by £15.2 billion. UK workers’ wages could increase by £800 million in the long run as a result of the deal.

Total annual tariff reductions on goods imports from Japan could be worth up to around £275 million per year in the long run. Some 59% of all Japanese goods imported into the UK and 44% of all UK goods exported into Japan are used in supply chains (average 2016-2018). So as well as reducing the price of consumer goods, lower tariffs could also cut the costs of domestic production in both countries.

Removing trade barriers with Japan could deliver huge gains, both for the 8,000 UK Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) across the UK already exporting goods with Japan as well as those making plans to enter the Japanese market. For example, total annual tariff reductions on goods exports to Japan could be worth around £33 million per year in the long run.

The deal will also provide cutting edge provisions on digital trade that maximise opportunities for trade across all sectors of the economy, providing trust and stability for UK businesses, entrepreneurs and exporters. Such provisions will reduce trade barriers and make it easier for the SMEs already exporting goods to Japan. UK businesses will have the opportunity to lead on innovation, supporting the development of important emerging technologies, such as quantum computing. E-commerce and the creative industries will also benefit from the free flow of data and strong copyright provisions.

That is why today, the Department for International Trade is publishing a comprehensive document setting out the UK’s strategic approach to an enhanced FTA between the UK and Japan. We will be placing copies in the House libraries. The document is set out in three parts:

  • The Government’s negotiating objectives for an enhanced FTA with Japan, using the existing EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement as a basis.
  • The Government response to the Call for Input on trade negotiations with Japan, providing an overview of the responses received and setting out how these have fed into our policy development.
  • A Scoping Assessment providing a preliminary assessment of the potential long-term economic impacts of an enhanced FTA between the UK and Japan.

The objectives published today are informed by our Call for Input, which ran for six weeks between 20 September and 4 November 2019 and gave businesses, interest groups and members of the public the opportunity to highlight their priorities for a potential future agreement with Japan.

A deal with Japan will help us to deliver opportunity and unleash the potential of every part of our United Kingdom. Analysis in the Scoping Assessment shows a UK-Japan enhanced FTA could have a positive impact on every UK nation and region in the long run, with Scotland, the East Midlands and London expected to benefit the most.

We are engaging with the devolved administrations, crown dependencies and overseas territories to ensure that we develop an enhanced FTA that works for the whole of the UK.

Our negotiating objectives clearly set out our priorities for an ambitious and comprehensive agreement, which will build on our existing EPA to strengthen the economic relationship with one of our largest bilateral trading partners.

The Government is committed to transparency and we will continue to ensure that parliamentarians, UK citizens and businesses have access to the information they need on our trade negotiations.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS233
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 06 February 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for International Trade)
Commons

Update on Independent Investigation into Export Licences for Saudi Arabia Issued in Breach of Court Undertaking

I gave a statement to Parliament on 26 September 2019 on matters related to the breaches of the Undertaking given to the Court of Appeal on 20 June 2019 by the then Secretary of State that we would not grant new licences for export to Saudi Arabia of arms and military equipment for possible use in the conflict in Yemen, and the broader commitment to Parliament, also on 20 June 2019, that we would not grant new licences for exports to Saudi Arabia or its Coalition partners which might be used in the conflict in Yemen.

The UK Government is deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The Government fully supports the peace process led by the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, and urges the parties to engage constructively with this process. A political settlement is the only way to bring long-term stability to Yemen and to address the worsening humanitarian crisis.

In relation to the breaches, I announced that the Permanent Secretary had commissioned, on my behalf, a full independent investigation to establish the precise circumstances in which these licences were granted, establish whether any other licences have been granted in breach of the Undertaking to the Court or contrary to the Parliamentary Statement, and confirm that procedures are in place so that no further breaches of the Undertaking can occur.

This investigation, led by an independent senior official (the Director General of Policy Group in the Department for Work and Pensions), has now concluded. The report identifies the circumstances in which these licences were granted and assesses the interim procedures which were put in place to ensure no further breaches can occur. It is noted that no further breaches of the Undertaking or the Parliamentary Statement have been identified since I updated the House.

The report notes the steps that have been taken to ensure that there have been no further breaches. In particular, the report states that the “new processes established address the shortcomings that led to the breaches… The process has a greater iterative and real-time involvement, with the weekly meeting process providing more opportunities for information to be updated and changes in circumstances to be reflected in decision-making. There is greater senior involvement and oversight which should strengthen assurance.”

The interim process has led to improved, timely information sharing across government and there is now a clear process in place to ensure that any changes in circumstances in the conflict in Yemen are addressed. Further steps have already been taken forward, including increased governance and risk management within the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU), to meet the issues identified in the report.

I will be considering whether any further action is necessary to ensure the continuance of robust and rigorous operations and assurance processes more widely within ECJU.

I will be placing copies of the report in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS96
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 06 February 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for International Trade)
Commons

Free Trade Agreements with the Rest of the World

On Monday the Prime Minister set out our approach to negotiations with the European Union. This statement sets out the Government’s proposed approach to negotiations with other priority partners. Further details will be made available to parliament as the negotiating process develops.

Having left the European Union the UK now faces an opportunity to re-emerge after decades of hibernation as a campaigner for global free trade. According to the IMF, 90% of global GDP growth is forecast to come from outside the EU over the next 5 years. The UK needs to be ready to capitalise upon this. As set out in our manifesto, this Government has ambitious goals for British trade. We aim to secure free trade agreements with countries covering 80% of UK trade within the next three years. We will drive a hard bargain and, as with all negotiations, we will be prepared to walk away if that is in the national interest. Independence will allow the UK to become a truly Global Britain, championing free trade and showing the UK is a force for good.

A key priority is to deepen trade and investment relationships with like-minded partners, starting with the USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. These bilateral negotiations will also be a potential stepping-stone to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Regarding the UK-USA FTA the Government will be setting out negotiating objectives in due course, alongside a response to thepublic consultation as well as an initial economic assessment. This will be the first in a series of statements setting out our plans for FTAs with global partners.

By striking free trade agreements with partners across the globe, the UK has the opportunity to increase prosperity in all parts of our country. In the negotiations the Government will strike a tough bargain and seek an agreement in the national interest that removes tariffsand cuts red tape to support British businesses and benefit British consumers, as well as setting out cutting edge rules that will help underpin our world-class digital economy. Any agreement must respect the autonomy and sovereignty of both parties. In its negotiations, the Government will be acting on behalf of the whole UK family and our overall principle is to ensure all parts of the UK benefit from any deal. In addition, nothing in any agreement will undermine the Government’s commitment to tackling climate change.

The Government has been clear that when we are negotiating trade deals, the NHS will not be on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table. We will not agree measures which undermine the Government’s ability to deliver on our manifesto commitments to the NHS.

As we committed to in our manifesto in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.

Over the last three years, the UK has developed a world-class trade negotiation function, bringing the best talent from international organisations, leading law firms, business, civil society and government. The Governmenthas the capacity to conduct all of its priority negotiations.

Further information on some of the priority areas of the UK-US FTA, is set out below.

Goods Market Access

The FTA will secure comprehensive, far-reaching and mutually beneficial tariff reductions (taking into account sensitive UK products) which will increase access to the US market for UK businesses, and lower prices and increase choice for UK consumers. This market access will be further supported through the FTA by efficient, predictable, and transparent customs procedures, with a reduction in technical barriers to trade. The FTA will aim to remove measures that currently restrict UK trade and to prevent their imposition in future, while upholding the safety and quality of products on the UK market

Trade Remedies

An FTA with the US will enable the UK to protect its interests when threatened by unexpected surges in imports of goods or unfair trading practices, while making the appropriate commitments to transparency, due process and proportionate use of trade remedies. It willalso remove trade distorting tariffs.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS)

The UK will maintain its own autonomous sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regime to protect public, animal and plant life and health and the environment, reflecting its existing high standards. We will not compromise on ourhigh animal welfare and food standards.

Sustainability

The Government will maintain and seek to advance the UK’s world-leading environmental, labour and anti-corruption standards, including to support domestic climate ambition and UK low carbon industries, technology and innovation.

Trade in Services

The FTA with the US will provide a boost for our world-leading services sectors including in key UK export sectors such as financial services, telecommunications, professional and business services, and transport services. The Government will make it easier for professionals from across the UK to do business in the US, (including by easing business travel), securingambitious commitments to ensure fair competition and consolidating and improving market access for UK services exporters.

Mutual recognition of Professional Qualifications

An FTA with the US will encourage the mutual recognition of UK and US professional qualifications, by strengthening regulatory cooperation, so that qualification requirements do not become an unnecessary barrier to trade.

Investment

The US and UK are each other’s biggest investors, creating high-skilled jobs and growing our economies. At the end of 2018, British companies had investments worth £295.1bn in the US.

The Government will address market access barriers and ensure UK investors operating in the US have the same level of protection and standards of treatment they receive in the UK.

SMEs

Over 31,600 small British businesses are already exporting goods to the US. The Government will seek to include a specific SME chapter in the US FTA to support and further stimulate this trade.

Digital Trade

The Government will set global best practice by future-proofing the agreement to take account of changing technology and developing areas of the economy. For example, the Government will secure cutting-edge provisions which maximise opportunities for digital trade across all sectors of the economy.

Intellectual Property

Recognising our two world-leading Intellectual Propertyregimes, the US FTA will secure provisions that support UK creative and innovative industries, whilst maintaining consumer access via an effective and balanced global framework.

Government Procurement

To maximise access for UK companies to government procurement opportunities at US federal and state level the UK will seek additional market access outcomes that go beyond the level set in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS98
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 06 February 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for International Trade)
Commons

Trade Policy Update

This morning the Department for International Trade launched a public consultation to inform the development of the UK’s new independent tariff policy.

Now that Britain has left the EU, it will use its new powers to make its mark internationally as a champion of free trade and a bulwark against the forces of protectionism that exist in the world. The Government’s message is that free trade is good for all nations, is right for the UK and will deliver benefits for British businesses, households and consumers.

As part of our new approach, the Government is developing a new UK Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff schedule which will enter into force on 1st January 2021. This will be a bespoke regime known as the UK Global Tariff (UKGT). It will be designed specifically for the UK economy and will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff which is currently applied on imports into the UK. It will ensure UK businesses compete on fair terms with the rest of the world whilst benefitting households through greater choice and lower prices.

This is the first time in almost 50 years that the UK will be able to set its tariff rates on imported goods. This consultation represents an opportunity for every business, every person and every civil society group, in every part of the UK, to have their say. We are calling on businesses, consumers and other groups to help us shape this new instrument of trade policy for the UK.

To inform the development of this bespoke regime, the Government is seeking views on a series of potential amendments as the UK moves away from the EU’s Common External Tariff. These are:

● simplifying and tailoring the tariff; ● removing tariffs on key inputs to production; ● removing tariffs where the UK has zero or limited domestic production.

The Government will also seek views through a series of events across UK regions and Devolved Administrations to engage with businesses, business representatives, consumers, civil society groups, associations and other interested individuals and organisations.

The Government previously developed the Temporary Tariff Regime (TTR) in 2019. The Temporary Tariff Regime was developed for a possible scenario in which the UK left the EU without a deal. Now that the Withdrawal Agreement has been approved by both the EU and the UK, this scenario is no longer relevant.

The consultation will close on 5th March 2020 and once the Government has carefully considered available evidence, including the consultation responses, an announcement on the UK’s new Global Tariff schedule will follow in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS97
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