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Free Trade Agreements

Volume 701: debated on Thursday 21 October 2021

3. What recent progress her Department has made on securing free trade agreements with countries around the world. (903683)

13. What recent progress her Department has made on securing free trade agreements with countries around the world. (903697)

We now have trade deals with 68 countries around the world, plus the EU, covering trade worth £744 billion last year.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the trade deals we have secured, especially those with Commonwealth partners—such as the excellent deals with Australia and, more recently, New Zealand—are a shining example of global Britain in action, and that they are opening up fantastic opportunities for British businesses and consumers, be they in Rother Valley or across our great country?

Global Britain means using our expertise, resources, talents and values as a force for good in the world, and furthering not just our interests, but the interests of the whole of humanity. My hon. Friend’s part of the world is helping us to do that; last year, Yorkshire and the Humber exported more than £240 million-worth of goods to Australia alone. I want those businesses in his constituency to benefit from the removal of tariffs.

I very much welcome the trade deals that the Government have secured, particularly the most recent one with New Zealand, but trade deals are a first step and it is now for British businesses to take advantage of them. Does the Minister agree that the role of skilled, professional salespeople with business-to-business selling skills will be critical to ensuring that we get the projected value from these deals, and that we need to give those people every support?

My hon. Friend is right, and he is doing his damnedest to make sure that Rugby is at the front of the queue in that respect. To support his businesses, we are delivering an export promotion campaign that positions exporting as a route to growth, prosperity and job creation. The campaign will encourage businesses to seize the opportunities from trade deals, while directing them to our new export support services.

I also welcome the Minister for Trade Policy, the right hon. Member for Portsmouth North (Penny Mordaunt), to her new role.

I have already mentioned the forecast that the deal with New Zealand will cost jobs in our farming communities. Has the Minister had a chance to read that? I also want to ask her about exports and growth. Is it correct, as her Department says on page 54 of the document, that under the terms of the deal New Zealand’s exports to the UK will increase by five times as much as UK exports to New Zealand, and that, as it says on page 58, New Zealand’s GDP will grow by half a billion pounds while the UK’s GDP will not increase by a single penny? Will the Minister tell us whether those figures are right?

Missing from the right hon. Lady’s question was any timeframe. The Opposition need to appreciate that we are building and increasing these markets. Over time, the numbers will go up, because we have given our businesses and farmers the opportunity to do that, and because we have faith in those businesses and farmers to seize those opportunities that we give them. I hope that the right hon. Lady and her Opposition colleagues will be cheerleaders in that respect.

I am just reading the figures from the Minister’s Department and there is a real problem: this is now the third Asia-Pacific agreement in a row—Japan, Australia and now New Zealand—where more than 80% of the growth in trade projected by her own Department has gone to exporters in those other countries and less than 20% has gone to exporters in the UK. The Government say that they are tilting to Asia. I have to say, I think that Asia is taking us to the cleaners. While the Minister is still relatively new, will she sit down with her new boss and tell the Department that enough is enough—that we need trade deals that deliver for Britain, and we need jobs, exports and growth?

Nine trillion pounds—that is what these deals, and ultimately the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, will mean to this country. Yes, we have three deals, and we are going to get more. That is what we want to do. We are going to grow these markets. That is the whole point of our leaving the EU and formulating this plan for global Britain. These deals will increase growth and prosperity in this country, which will fund everything that matters to all Members of this House.