Approval of draft decisions under Article 352 of TFEU

Part of European Union (Approvals) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 10th October 2017.

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Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy Conservative, Brigg and Goole 6:00 pm, 10th October 2017

I absolutely agree. I am delighted to have been asked once again to be the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Canada, as I was previously until I had the unfortunate experience of being a Minister for a year. I was passionate about the deal that was negotiated. As hon. Members will remember from our work on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, I have been a strong advocate in the House for improved trade relations between this country and north America. I should add, despite being a strong advocate for CETA, that CETA is a classic example of the European Union way of negotiating a trade deal that does not necessarily reflect the peculiarities and the particular circumstances of our economy.

I think—and the Canadians have been very positive about this—that although it would be sensible for us to continue to apply CETA during the immediate period after we have left the European Union and to use it as a starting position, we can be far more ambitious. After all, 40% of our merchandise comes into the EU from Canada. We are the biggest recipient of Canadian foreign direct investment in the EU, and we are the biggest foreign direct investor in Canada among EU countries. It is certainly the case that we can be more ambitious, and aim for more than what has been achieved so far through CETA, although it is a good start and a good base. I welcomed the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Ottawa, where she established a bilateral trade working group with Prime Minister Trudeau and his Government. That was a good step forward, especially in the eking out by officials of where a deal could lie in the future.

I want to make a case to the Minister that I have made at earlier stages. I hope he will take it on board, because it is the crux of my speech, as it was at those earlier stages. While it is important that we maintain our relationships with the federal Government, I think that the one thing we have learnt from the CETA process, on both sides of the Atlantic, is how important—particularly in a Canadian context—engagement at a sub-federal, sub-national level really is. I urge the Minister to ensure that we learn the lessons of how we engage with provincial Governments, who are so important to the success of any future trade deal with Canada. We need to ensure that, as well as continuing our bilateral relationship through the working group that we have established through the federal Government in Canada, we are actively working with those provincial Governments, a number of whom have representatives and trade offices in the United Kingdom, and we need to ensure that we learn the lessons of any failure to do that through CETA.

I have little else to say, other than, again, to wish the Bill every success.