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Exiting the EU: UK Trade

Volume 636: debated on Thursday 22 February 2018

5. What recent assessment he has made of the effect on UK trade of the UK leaving the EU single market and the customs union. (903863)

By leaving the customs union and establishing a new ambitious arrangement with the EU, we will be seeking to maintain as frictionless as possible trade in goods between the UK and the EU, and the freedom to forge trade relations with partners around the world.

The Norwegians have a saying: “Nothing is in as much of a hurry as a dead fish on the back of a lorry.” Like Norway, Scotland exports most of the fish it catches to the EU, which is why Norway has chosen to be a member of the single market, in particular to avoid non-tariff barriers so the fish can cross borders quickly. What assessment has the Secretary of State made of the impact of leaving the single market on the Scottish fishing industry?

Of course, the majority of Scotland’s exports go to the rest of the UK, not the EU. The hon. and learned Lady talks about the value of the single market; it is just worth pointing out that, despite our membership of the single market, we have had a growing trade deficit with the EU at a time when we have had a growing trade surplus with the rest of the world. We want to establish the conditions for all our exports from all parts of the UK to be able to access the growing markets of the world, and, as the International Monetary Fund has pointed out, 90% of global growth in the next 10 to 15 years will be outside Europe.

What is the Secretary of State’s preferred method of ensuring frictionless trade between the Republic and the north of Ireland?

Our preferred option is to do that through a widespread and liberal agreement in trade with the European Union, as set out in the Government’s memorandum in December.