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UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 14 January 2021

What assessment she has made of the effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the UK’s position in global trade. (910756)

The agreement that we have struck with the EU is great for the UK. It delivers on our promise to the British people and takes back control of our laws, our borders and our money. It proves that we can succeed as an independent trading nation, and builds on the deal that we have struck covering 63 countries around the world.

I was genuinely interested in what the Secretary of State would say, because so far none of the 30-plus free trade deals that she has rolled over with non-EU countries since 2019 is actually set to deliver any increase in exports compared with what was previously forecast. According to her own economic impact assessments, even the Japan trade deal, which she has lauded, will result in only a £2.6 billion increase in UK exports, not the £4.3 billion forecast inside the EU. Can she explain—preferably without reverting to wishful thinking, personal attacks or party political rants—exactly how Britain is going to be better off?

I am interested to hear the hon. Gentleman’s political advice there. I note that he did not vote for a deal with the EU, even though he previously said that no deal was unacceptable. The figures that he is quoting on Japan from the EU are crude figures that are completely out of date and were created from data before the financial crisis in 2008. The fact is that the Japan deal that we have struck goes further and faster in areas such as data and digital, the creative industries, and food and drink—all areas where the UK has a comparative advantage. There are huge opportunities ahead, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to embrace them.

Over the last two years, the Government have placed, as the Secretary of State tells us frequently, more than 30 new trade agreements before the House. Every single one of them, of course, has been accompanied by an economic impact assessment.

The Secretary of State’s October agreement with Japan set a new standard for these documents, with over 100 pages analysing the impact of the deal on UK exports, jobs, business and growth. May I simply ask the Secretary of State, when are the Government going to publish the economic impact assessment for the UK’s trade agreement with the European Union?

The right hon. Lady will be well aware that the Department for International Trade is not responsible for negotiating the agreement with the European Union. That is a matter for Taskforce Europe, which has provided full data to this House. The House voted for the deal—including, I am delighted to see, the right hon. Lady.

I was not asking whether the Secretary of State was responsible; I was just thinking that, since she was in the Cabinet, she might know when the impact assessment was going to be published.

The reality is that we only need to watch the news to see the devastating economic damage being done to businesses across our country—especially the Scottish fishing industry—as a result of the new rules facing our exporters and the shocking way in which they are being implemented. Can the Secretary of State explain the logic? Why have the Government published full economic impact assessments for the trade agreements signed last month with Moldova and North Macedonia, but not for our trade agreement with the European Union?

The trade agreement with the European Union is something that the House has already voted on and supported, and which has happened. It is one of the largest agreements ever struck, duty free and quota free on products covering huge amounts of the British economy.

I encourage the right hon. Lady to move forward and focus on the areas for which the Department for International Trade has responsibility—namely, the 63 countries that we have covered with new trade deals, and our aspirations to strike trade deals with the US, New Zealand and Australia.