Commonwealth Countries: Trade Agreements

International Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th May 2018.

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Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight 12:00 am, 17th May 2018

What progress he made on potential trade agreements with Commonwealth countries at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018.

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

My Department continues to work with the 24 Commonwealth countries that are part of the EU’s economic partnership agreements or other preferential arrangements to ensure that there is no disruption to our existing trade. We also have regular discussions with Australia and New Zealand on our future bilateral trading relationships through our trade working groups. With Canada, we already have an agreement in place in CETA—the comprehensive economic and trade agreement—which will form the basis of a UK-Canada agreement once we have left the European Union.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

That is good news. Firms in my constituency such as GKN-Melrose, Vestas and BAE Systems export across the Commonwealth and the wider world. Is my right hon. Friend confident that post Brexit, we will be able to continue and grow that trade?

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

Very confident. I pay tribute to the companies such as BAE and GKN that he mentions in his constituency, which are exemplary exporters. We intend to have an open and comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union. We intend to take advantage of the fact that the International Monetary Fund says that 90% of the global trade increase will be outside Europe in the next 10 to 15 years, and we have a new export strategy to support all exporters, including the ones that he mentions in his constituency.

Photo of Martin Docherty Martin Docherty Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Industries for the future)

Ironically, a trade deal between India and the European Union is more likely to be agreed by the remaining EU27, as two of the main stumbling blocks are whisky and visas, which mainly involve the United Kingdom. Therefore, will the Secretary of State advise me, the House and my constituents at the Auchentoshan distillery and the Loch Lomond distillery how they will seek to overcome that when the Government will be all alone?

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

One of the main problems with India, of course, is the tariff that it applies on whisky. We have been involved in a trade review with India for some months now, and part of the process is to look at the areas where we require liberalisation to bring our two economies close enough to be able to consider a free trade agreement. The high tariff applied on Scotch whisky by India is one of the impediments, and we continue to urge them to reduce that.