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House of Commons Hansard
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Free Trade Agreement: USA
15 December 2016
Volume 618
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5. What progress he has made on negotiating a free trade agreement with the USA. [907895]

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The United States is our single largest export market, accounting for £100 billion-worth of UK exports. As the Prime Minister said, the UK and US are, and will remain, strong and close partners on trade, security and defence. We cannot negotiate and conclude trade deals while we are a member of the EU, but we can discuss our current and future trading relationships. The Secretary of State for International Trade, Lord Price and I have all visited the US since taking office. We look forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump to ensure the continuing prosperity of our nations.

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The excellent Minister is quite correct that the USA is our biggest single export market, although we have no trade deal with it. However, the current President said that we would at the “back of the queue” when it comes to a trade deal. In the discussions that the Minister will have in the US, does he think that President-elect Trump will put us at the back or the front of the line?

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My hon. Friend is right to stress the importance of the bilateral trading relationship and the investment relationship. Every day, 1 million Britons go to work for American companies here and 1 million Americans go to work for British companies in the United States. Not only are our exports to the US very strong, but they grew by 19% in the most recent year for which data are available. Of course we look forward to developing a stronger and more open trading relationship with the new President and the new Congress.

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One of the main proponents of a future UK-US trade deal in Congress is Congressman Charlie Dent, who happens to be a very good friend of mine and of the hon. Member for Aberconwy (Guto Bebb). However, President-elect Trump was elected on an anti-globalisation mandate, so why does the Minister think the new President will put UK-US trade deals at the front of his agenda in a post-Brexit environment?

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Over the summer, I met Senator Orrin Hatch, one of the co-authors of the Congress resolution calling for a future US-UK free trade agreement. We strongly welcome the support right the way across Congress on our future trade relationship with the United States. As for the President-elect, I suggest we wait to see his actions. He did say during different campaign events:

“Trade has big benefits, and I am in favour—totally in favour—of trade…Isolation is not an option. Only great and well-crafted trade deals”.

We look forward to working with him in the future.

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What consideration has the Department given to the President-elect’s views on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

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In a very general sense, the UK remains supportive of trade deals, right the way across the globe, that reduce or remove trade barriers—tariff barriers or non-tariff barriers—to help facilitate the flow of international trade.

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The TPP, which has just been mentioned, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have been fraught with difficulties and concerns from the public, businesses and sectors. So what will the Minister do when negotiating a bilateral trade deal with the US to make sure that those issues do not derail that kind of deal?

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The first thing to say is that TTIP is still on the table, and we have always been clear that the rights of Governments to regulate in the public interest will still be there in all these different trade deals. As the hon. Gentleman will know, TTIP has been debated in the Commons on at least five occasions, and the views of parliamentarians have been made clear. We will make sure that there will be no reduction in regulatory standards if TTIP comes to pass.