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Trade and Export Promotion

Volume 709: debated on Thursday 3 March 2022

Perhaps I should just stand at the Dispatch Box full time. My Department has a strong package of support for British exporters, as I have reiterated several times already this morning, so that they can take advantage of the markets that we are opening through our free trade agreements. From encouraging businesses to export through the “Made in the UK, Sold to the World” campaign to our world-leading UK export finance offer and our on-the-ground support in the UK and overseas, UK businesses are being supported at every stage in their export journey. I repeat that there is an offer to attend the export showcase on 9 March.

UK connectivity is concentrated in England, and particularly in the south-east of England. That presents a growing challenge to Scottish businesses, given the impact of carbon and haulage costs, and queuing at the port of Dover, particularly with perishable export goods. Does the Minister agree that reviewing the port infrastructure, and particularly the reintroduction of ferry links from Scotland to Europe, is of growing urgency, and will he meet me to discuss possible mechanisms to improve that situation?

I am more than happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to look at the specifics, and where necessary to liaise with the Scottish Government on any specific Scottish matters.

The renewable energy sector has been one of the success stories in the UK in recent years, particularly in my constituency where there are many well-paid jobs. What are the Minister and his Department doing to ensure that we can export more from the renewable energy sector?

First, may I thank my hon. Friend for the work that he does as one of the Prime Minister’s trade envoys? The work that we are doing on green energy and renewables is at the heart of the export strategy. On any specific issues that my hon. Friend would like to take up to ensure that we can boost that world-beating sector, we would be more than happy to link up his constituents, or any companies that he wishes to put in contact with us, so that they can exploit the opportunities globally, where we are a world leader.

Promoting trade has to be done in the context of protecting British interests. The 2019 Conservative manifesto made a commitment to cover 80% of UK trade with free trade agreements. The unanswered concern of the Farmers Union of Wales about meat on or off the bone raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Chris Elmore), who is no longer in his place, shows just the level of scrutiny required to protect the interests of our farmers, as does the protection of our jobs, consumer standards and environmental and welfare commitments. Does the Secretary of State not worry that not only will she be responsible for a broken manifesto promise but, by taking on an “any deal will do” approach, she is undermining UK interests?

No, the whole ministerial team are absolutely confident that we will continue to deliver world-beating FTAs, and we liaise with all who have interests. The hon. Lady mentioned things such as agriculture and food, and we liaise with representative bodies such as the NFU to ensure that their concerns are fully represented in the FTAs. I am sure that she will join us in celebrating all the FTAs that are opening up new markets so that we can export the best of British products.