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New Free Trade Agreements

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 15 July 2021

I wish the hon. Member for Harrow West (Gareth Thomas) a happy birthday. I hope he has had all the answers he was looking for today.

We now have trade deals with 68 countries around the world, plus the EU, covering trade worth £744 billion last year. Last week, I signed a trade deal with the European Economic Area-European Free Trade Association countries Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. It is one of the new generation of trade deals we are signing, which Britain has struck as an independent trading nation. It shows that Britain is a pioneering partner of choice when it comes to trade. They have gone further with us than with any other FTA partner, benefiting every corner of our country. From fish feed to cheese, sausages to strawberries, tariffs have been cut, backing jobs across Britain.

Let’s go to Karl MᶜCartney. [Interruption.] Maybe not. So we will go to Sir David Amess.

While I wholeheartedly congratulate the Government on the agreements negotiated so far, as the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for the Maldives, I urge my hon. Friend, following our meeting, to negotiate something that is slightly different, an economic partnership agreement, with the Maldives Government, which would benefit not only our country but the core industry of sustainable tuna fishing in the Maldives in the light of COP26.

It was a pleasure to meet my hon. Friend recently to discuss trade policy regarding the Maldives. He will know that we have agreed trade deals covering 31 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries already, showing our belief in trade for development. I can confirm to him that I am keen to find a route to short circuit the process of agreeing more trade deals like these with Commonwealth friends around the world.

I concur with the previous speaker on the Maldives.

Some seafood companies in Scotland have seen their costs of selling to the continent treble from 32p a kilo to about £1 a kilo. Also, UK exports to Ireland have fallen by 47.6%. All that illustrates the current damage Brexit is doing. We know from Government figures that, for every £490 lost to GDP, trade deals are not bringing in very much, unfortunately: an Australian trade deal makes up only £2 of that; a New Zealand trade deal £1; an America deal, if it happens, £20; and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership will bring in £3 to £8, depending on the way the cards fall. Has the DIT identified any other trade deal that might make up merely 0.1% of GDP, the odd £10 for every £490 of Brexit loss? Is there a figure for India yet? It has been a number of weeks since I asked the Minister this, but is there a GDP figure for a trade deal with India, if it happens?

The question has been asked and it has already been answered. I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman would welcome that, in the EEA-EFTA trade deal, we have secured great benefits for Scottish businesses exporting to Norway. According to the figures I have seen, Orkney Scottish Island cheddar could see its duty reduced by two thirds. There will also be an important new opportunity for fish feed exporters to export tariff-free to Norway—it will see previously high tariffs on fish feed slashed to nought—providing a potential boost to the aquaculture industry in Scotland.