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Exiting the EU: Trade Agreements

Volume 636: debated on Thursday 22 February 2018

3. Whether he plans to replicate the terms of EU free trade agreements in trade deals with Switzerland, Norway and Turkey after the UK has left the EU; and if he will make a statement. (903861)

As we leave the EU, the Government intend as far as possible to maintain the effects of existing EU free trade agreements and other EU preferential arrangements. That includes agreements with Switzerland, Norway and Turkey.

I am going to pursue the questions asked by my hon. Friends the Members for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West) and for Bradford South (Judith Cummins), which the Minister for Trade Policy did not answer. In 2016, the Secretary of State told the International Trade Committee that he would prioritise securing an agreement with Switzerland. The current relationship between the EU and Switzerland is overseen by some 20 joint committees. Very specifically, how many of those committees will be replaced by UK-Swiss committees, and how far along in the process of setting up those institutions is his Department?

I met Swiss Ministers in Geneva recently, and we discussed what the future arrangement would be. Clearly, how we oversee the arrangement depends on what the arrangement itself is, and that is currently under negotiation.

The Secretary of State has told us that he plans to replicate all the provisions of the trade agreements that the UK has, as a member of the EU, with Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Those provisions include free movement of people in the cases of Norway and Switzerland, and a customs union with Turkey. Will the Secretary of State confirm that it is the Government’s policy to replicate all of them?

In our transitional arrangements, we have made very clear that the key element is continuity. Until we create bespoke arrangements with those countries, we will maintain the provisions that exist today.