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Future Trade Deals: Environmental Standards

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 15 July 2021

What recent discussions she has had with UK trade partners on inserting clauses on environmental standards into future trade deals. (902803)

What recent discussions she has had with UK trade partners on inserting clauses on environmental standards into future trade deals. (902815)

We are seeking environmental provisions with all partners with which we are currently negotiating to ensure that future trade is sustainable and upholds the UK’s high environmental standards. The precise deals of any free trade agreement are a matter for formal negotiations.

Despite what the Minister says about calling for more control over trade, he has completely failed to advance the “polluter pays” principle through the carbon border tax, failed to advance the agenda at the G7, failed to put it into any of the trade agreements that he has drawn up and failed to put it into any of the negotiation frameworks that he is currently discussing. Can he tell me whether he will fail at the next stage when it comes to COP26? Is he already engaged in pre-negotiation talks with all the partners, and how will the principle fare on the COP26 agenda when the summits meets in November?

We take a strong interest in carbon leakage and in how trade deals with carbon. We are studying carefully, for example, EU proposals on the carbon border adjustment mechanism. At the World Trade Organisation in general, we are looking to advance our environmental agenda. The hon. Lady will know of the different measures taken by the UK Government; for example there is the UK global tariff, which reduced and eliminated tariffs on 104 environmental goods. We are also seeking good environmental chapters in all of our future free trade agreements.

Thank you for sneaking me in, Mr Speaker.

Today, we heard the devastating news that the Amazon is now a carbon source rather than a carbon sink. With deforestation at a 12-year high, it is emitting more CO2 than it absorbs. Is the Minister following the progress of the land-grabbing legislation, which has been dubbed the destruction package, that is going through the Brazilian Parliament at the moment? What discussions has he had with his counterparts, and what impact would that have on trade negotiations with Brazil? May I urge him to rule them out if this package goes through?

We are not currently negotiating a trade agreement with Brazil. We follow the position in Brazil very closely, and we engage strongly on a bilateral basis on all of these issues with the Brazilian Government. We have very good diplomatic representation not just in Brasilia but across different parts of Brazil, to make sure that the UK position and the importance of deforestation for the UK, particularly in this COP26 year, is upheld.