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Tariff Policies: US and China

Volume 666: debated on Thursday 17 October 2019

5. What assessment she has made of the effect on EU trade policy of recent changes in tariff policies between the US and China. (900005)

The European Union has made very clear its opposition to tariff escalation and its support for the international rules-based trading system. As a vocal champion of that very system, the United Kingdom endorses the EU approach. Low tariffs and free trade are the underpinning guarantor of prosperity and jobs in the UK; tariff wars are in no one’s interest.

Does my right hon. Friend agree, given the growing disruption in the EU’s trade relationship with both the US and China, that now is not the time to have disruption in the EU-UK trade relationship? The UK will become, overnight, the EU’s second largest trade partner. Does that not show all of us the need to get a trade deal with Brussels that we can live with and move on?

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. As a distinguished former occupant of the job I now have, he understands these matters incredibly well. He is absolutely correct: the United Kingdom is about to become the EU’s second largest trading partner, with £357 billion of goods and services exported to the UK last year. A good Brexit deal is in the interests of the EU and in the interests of the UK, and I am sure the whole House—at least, I wish the whole House—would wish my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister every success today in trying to get that agreement.

Recently, the Secretary of State said she would be

“unapologetic in fighting the forces of protectionism, in favour of genuinely free trade.”

Will she put this into action now for one of my constituents, a specialist publisher of historical aviation books, who from tomorrow will pay 25% tariffs on his materials, a large proportion of which are shipped to the US?

I absolutely give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that we will work tirelessly to promote trade, investment and the prosperity of the United Kingdom. On the hon. Gentleman’s particular point, I would be delighted to meet him to talk about his constituency business.