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Exports to European Markets

Volume 716: debated on Thursday 16 June 2022

Our export support service provides businesses with tailored support for exporting to Europe and beyond. Businesses are connected to our excellent array of support services such as the UK Export Academy and our trade show programme. We are operating bilateral partnerships to open up markets and overcome market access barriers. There is currently an eight-week consultation on an enhanced FTA between the UK and Switzerland. Those are just some of the measures that we can take to help businesses to export to European markets.

Research published yesterday shows that UK exports to the EU fell by £12.4 billion, or 15.6%, in the first six months of last year. I have seen that at first hand in my Ogmore constituency: businesses are being left with no option but to set up legal entities and warehouses within the EU in order to export. That is understandable, given the barriers that they face, but it results in jobs being moved away from the UK. Will the Minister commit to getting back around the table to reduce the costs and red tape that businesses the length and breadth of the United Kingdom are facing when exporting to the EU?

I have to say that I do not recognise that data. The Office for National Statistics data published yesterday showed that exports have continued to grow, month on month. For the past 12 months, exports to the UK were £650 billion. That is £53 billion up. Those are not my statistics, but those of the ONS. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but if he disagrees with the statistics, he should take that up with the ONS. These are the highest levels of exports to the EU since records began.

Given that the Prime Minister’s poor trade deal with the EU has already damaged exports and cost jobs, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Chris Elmore) says, the warnings from business groups this week that the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill risks further damage to trade and investment ought to have rung very loud alarm bells across Whitehall. Will Ministers commit to publishing, before the Bill’s Second Reading, an analysis of its implications for British exporters and all those whose jobs depend on exports to European markets?

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is one of Scotland’s great cultural exports. It has its own specialist vehicle for touring, but Brexit red tape and cabotage rules mean that it is very difficult and expensive now for it to export its cultural wares in Europe. Can the Minister tell us what he is doing to remove the Brexit red tape that is tied around our musical industries?

I can tell the hon. Lady what I am doing about it. We appreciate that creative industries are massive exporters for the UK and they are highly valued. What the Department does across all sectors, not just creative industries, where we identify specific barriers resulting from our new trading arrangements, is have regular contact with our partners in-country. Sometimes it is about interpretation of the rules and sometimes it is the rules. What we do is sit down with our colleagues to work out whether we can find a practical solution for the benefit of both the UK and our European partners.