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Trade: Europe

Volume 737: debated on Thursday 14 September 2023

Europe remains a vital destination for British exports. UK businesses exported more than £416 billion in the year to March 2023, up 24% in current prices on the previous year. We are engaging extensively with key European partners. This weekend, my right hon. Friend the Trade Secretary will attend the annual UK-Italy bilateral conference to advance the landmark ministerial dialogue on export and investment promotion launched in February, the first agreed between the UK and any EU country.

Here is an issue that could be discussed at that meeting: the youth group travel sector is worth £28 billion to the UK economy, but that two-way trade has collapsed since Brexit. The Prime Minister made a vague commitment in March that there would be an agreement for French school groups to visit the UK. We have heard no more details, and anyway we need a wider agreement to include other countries. When will the Government sort out this problem?

I think this matter sits not just with our Department, but with the Department for Education. If the hon. Gentleman will allow, I will write to him formally and make sure he gets an update on this issue.