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Leaving the EU: Third-country Trade Deals

Volume 641: debated on Thursday 17 May 2018

6. What assessment he has made of the potential benefits to the UK arising from third-country trade deals after the UK leaves the EU. (905361)

Leaving the EU means, for the first time in over 40 years, we will from next March be able to sign and ratify new trade deals. We are currently party to about 40 international trade agreements and are committed to securing continuity of those agreements. We have also established 14 trade working groups in major markets to explore the best ways of developing new trade and investment relationships post Brexit.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. He will know, as I do, that international regulatory standards are what fuel international trade. For the continuation of those deals and opportunities, does he agree that regulatory alignment will be necessary to secure the best British deals post Brexit?

As my hon. Friend will know, we have some good news for him about the implementation period. The UK will be party to those deals up to the end of December 2020. He is also right that there is a very important read-across between what is agreed with the EU on standards, rules of origin and so on. Our commitment remains absolute to have high standards and to encourage the use of broad international global standards of the highest quality.

10. Ministers have said that trade with Commonwealth countries will be important after Brexit and the Minister will be aware that currently our trading arrangements with many African and Caribbean Commonwealth countries are by virtue of the Cotonou agreement, which is due to be renegotiated during the transition period. Will the Minister say what trade arrangements he expects we will have with those countries once the new agreement with the EU takes effect? (905366)

As I say, up to the end of 2020, the UK will remain party to those agreements as they stand. We are also putting in significant efforts to make sure that the substance of those agreements rolls over beyond that. That is why we have signed memorandums of understanding with, for example, the South African Development Community—the South African customs area—CARIFORUM and the eastern and southern African economic partnership agreement group. That is work that is making good progress.