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Leaving the EU: Developing Countries

Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 13 February 2019

6. What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on the effect on the economies of developing countries of the UK leaving the EU. (909196)

Our Departments are working together to ensure that development stays at the heart of UK trade policy. For example, we are creating a trade preference scheme that will continue to provide the same level of market access to about 70 countries as is provided through the EU’s generalised scheme of preference.

As we learned today that only six of the promised 40 trade deals will actually be in place by the end of March, it seems that the International Trade Secretary is in competition with the Transport Secretary for who can do the worst job. What assurance can this Secretary of State give to the House that we will see full impact assessments on the social, environmental and human rights impacts of any trade deals before they come into force?

What the hon. Lady says is not the case. We are looking at the EPAs—economic partnership agreements—and other arrangements. The numbers she gave are not accurate. Our first priority is obviously trade continuity, and after that we will then be able to introduce the UK’s trade preference scheme, which will grant duty-free, quota-free access to 48 least-developed countries, and grant generous tariff reductions to about a further 25.

Is it not an absolute disgrace that coffee producers in the developing world are, at the moment, not allowed to do the value-added bits of putting coffee into packaging, selling and marketing it, and all the rest of it? Under EU rules, that has to be done within the EU. Brexit will enable those countries now to do the value-added bits in their own countries, thereby being of huge benefit to developing countries.

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. We want people to be able to trade their way out of poverty, and it is high time that we walked the walk as well as talked the talk.