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Trade Deals: Developing Countries

Volume 634: debated on Thursday 11 January 2018

7. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of trade deals between the UK and developing countries on the economies of those countries. (903218)

The UK is proudly spending 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development assistance—the first G7 country to honour its promise to do so. We are also committed to ensuring that developing countries can use trade as an engine of poverty reduction, and trade agreements play an important role in that. Our priority is to ensure that developing countries maintain their preferential access to the UK market as we leave the EU.

These texts are always delivered by Ministers in mellifluous tones, but they are often far too long. I know that there are people who scribble them for Ministers, but Ministers have a responsibility to recognise the virtues of the blue pencil.

But I also recognise the wisdom of the Minister’s answer, Mr Speaker, and I am grateful for it. I share his aspirations. Will he please remind the House what he will do to give those aspirations legislative effect?

The Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, which had its Second Reading on Monday, provides exactly for the scheme of preferences to be taken across into UK law. I find it extraordinary that the Opposition parties voted against it. They voted against the UK having its own trade preferences scheme for developing countries. That is a disgrace. I very much hope that they will reconsider their position as the Bill passes through the House of Commons.