Exiting the EU: Trade Agreements

International Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd February 2018.

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Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Labour, Brentford and Isleworth 12:00 am, 22nd February 2018

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.

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade

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.

Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Labour, Brentford and Isleworth

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?

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade

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.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

We do not need trade agreements to trade, do we?

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade)

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?

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade

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.