Thank you to everyone who contacted me regarding attending the debate on future trade deals for the UK with Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. However, I am still happy to share with you my thoughts about this debate.
I welcome trade agreements that grow our export base across all regions of the UK and that help maintain and elevate rights and standards. If the Government could show that future trade agreements with the US, Australia and New Zealand, and accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) could achieve these goals, I would support them. However, I am extremely concerned at the current lack of information the Government has provided on the prospective benefits and potential threats of these deals.
There are multiple potential threats to the UK should we agree to go ahead with these trade deals. For example, these countries are very likely to push for the opening of UK markets to their food products. This has raised significant concerns about our own standards for food production, animal welfare and measures to protect the health of humans, animals and plants, as well as the ongoing viability of our farming industry. The UK’s future trade deals have multiple different risks of impact, whether that be socially, economically or environmentally, on our country and others.
I therefore agree completely with your call for greater trade democracy. There must be comprehensive impact assessments before the launch of new trade negotiations. There must be proper consultation, including formal engagement with affected stakeholders, civil society, trade unions and the devolved nations. And Parliament must have a proper role in approving negotiating mandates and scrutinising trade agreements as they are being negotiated.
Before the Trade Bill passed to the House of Lords, I voted for amendments to ensure all new free trade agreements are subject to proper parliamentary scrutiny and consent. I also voted to require the Government to publish and consult on the text of each free trade agreement before ratification. Unfortunately, these and other important amendments were all voted down by Government MPs. Nevertheless, I can assure you that I will continue to press for proper trade democracy when the Trade Bill returns to the House of Commons.
Thank you to everyone once again for contacting me regarding this issue. I will be sure to keep you updated with any progress regarding the future trade deals for the UK.