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Free Trade Agreements

Volume 679: debated on Thursday 3 September 2020

What assessment she has made of the potential merits of free trade agreements with countries other than the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. (905352)

For the first time in almost 50 years, we are able to determine our own trade policy, and there is much interest in the potential of a free trade agreement with Britain from our partners around the globe. We will weigh up a multitude of considerations and we will be looking closely at the progress we make on market access improvements in the months ahead.

While we remain open to taking forward negotiations with a number of global partners, we have already had productive discussions on how to enhance our trading relationship with the Government of India, as I detailed earlier, with the Gulf Co-operation Council, and with the Southern Common Market, known as Mercosur.

Having lived and worked in South America for five years, I am aware of the huge untapped potential that countries on that continent can offer, particularly for our high-tech manufacturing bases in Dudley and in the Black Country, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich West (Shaun Bailey) mentioned. Will my hon. Friend update the House on any discussions to open up these markets and opportunities offered by a post-Brexit Britain?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the untapped potential of South American markets. Britain used to do more in this part of the world, so my Department is working to reignite those trading relationships through regular ministerial discussions, including with Brazil, to open up opportunities for trade. We have already secured a number of free trade agreements to ensure continuity of access for British businesses, and we are interested in further opportunities to deepen these relationships in the region, including through Mercosur.