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EU Trade Agreement Impact Analysis and Process

Volume 645: debated on Thursday 19 July 2018

I am pleased to announce that my Department will today publish an impact assessment for the EU-Singapore free trade agreement (FTA). I have separately written to the scrutiny Committees in both Houses of Parliament such that they can consider this evidence as part of their important review of this agreement. A copy of this impact assessment will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Negotiations with Singapore concluded in October 2014. The European Commission has now presented the final negotiated texts to the Council of the European Union (Council). The Council will now decide whether to adopt the necessary Council decision authorising signature and conclusion, with a vote in October 2018.

The agreement is expected to promote bilateral trade and economic growth between the EU and Singapore by eliminating most tariffs and reducing non-tariff measures that businesses face when trading goods and services and when investing.

I will also today lay the European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Economic Partnership Agreements and Trade Agreement) (Eastern and Southern Africa States, Southern African Development Community States, Ghana and Ecuador) Order 2018 to designate the Ecuador-EU Andean accession and these economic partnership agreements as treaties in accordance with the European Communities Act 1972.

The EU, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru signed the protocol of accession of Ecuador to the EU-Andean free trade agreement (known as the EU-Andean FTA) on 11 November 2016. The protocol has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2017.

On 28 July 2016, the EU signed an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Ghana. The EPA has been provisionally applied since 15 December 2016.

On 10 June 2016, the EU signed an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with six countries from the Southern African Development Community (SADC): Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland (now known as Eswatini) (the “SADC EPA states”). The EPA has been provisionally applied since 10 October 2016, except in the case of Mozambique, where it has been provisionally applied since 4 February 2018.

On 24 August 2009, the EU signed an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the eastern and southern Africa countries: Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Zimbabwe (the “ESA countries”). In July 2017, the Comoros signed the agreement, and they are currently in the process of ratification. The EPA has been provisionally applied since 14 May 2012, except in the case of the Comoros, where it will be applied pending ratification by the government of the Comoros. These agreements require ratification by the EU member states to come fully into effect.

I will lay this order concurrently with the laying of the text of the agreements as Command Papers under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act for scrutiny. This is in effect the start of the formal process of ratification of the agreements in the UK.

These agreements will boost the economies of the UK, the EU, and partner countries by promoting trade and economic growth. The European Union’s economic partnership agreements (EPAs) have a development focus that goes beyond trade, by including co-operation and assistance for partner countries. They aim to promote trade—and ultimately contribute, through increased trade and investment, to sustainable development and poverty reduction.

I will also lay before the House an explanatory memorandum to this order. This explains the background and rationale of the agreements and ratification. At the same time, we are publishing our economic impact assessments of these agreements. Copies of these documents are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Government remain committed to supporting the EU’s ambitious trade and development agendas including the EU free trade agreements they are putting in place. The UK ratification of these agreements while the UK is still an EU member state is a sound demonstration of this commitment.

The Government have been clear they will seek a seamless transition to replicate the effects of the agreements when we leave the EU in line with our policy.