The Government are committed to securing continuity of existing EU trade agreements and other preferential arrangements as we leave the EU. The draft withdrawal agreement confirms EU international agreements continue to apply to the UK during the implementation period. We are working to ensure continuity of those arrangements after that.
The REACH—registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals—regulations that govern production and other standards are critical to countless chemical companies in my Stockton North constituency and beyond for trade across the world. Will the Minister update the House on the progress to retain them when we leave the EU?
I met the chemicals industry earlier this week—in line with other industries—in a very useful roundtable at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. That work to make sure that the UK benefits from the best possible rules as we go forward is ongoing.
Does the Minister agree that one of the big opportunities from leaving the EU is that we can negotiate trade deals that best suit the UK, rather than being tied into the other 27 member states?
My hon. Friend makes a very important point. That is why we have these 14 trade working groups with major markets around the world. We are in active discussions with those counterparts and we have the benefit, from March next year, of the ability to negotiate, sign and ratify trade agreements with them.
First, the Government said that they were simply rolling over these agreements on precisely the same terms. Then they admitted that they would have to amend the agreements with Norway, Turkey and Switzerland to avoid rolling over such things as the customs union or the four freedoms that they would rather avoid, but the Minister has still not explained what process this sovereign Parliament will undertake to ensure that these important new agreements are subjected to proper democratic scrutiny. When will he?
We had significant exchanges on this during the Trade Bill Committee and the scrutiny arrangements are enshrined in that Bill, which I note again that the hon. Gentleman voted against. He will also know that these agreements have already been scrutinised in this House under existing EU scrutiny procedures, and there are precise arrangements set out in the Bill for how we go forward from here.