EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

Part of Food Advertising (Protection of Children from Targeting) – in the House of Commons at 3:53 pm on 26th June 2018.

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Photo of Emma Little Pengelly Emma Little Pengelly Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Equality), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Trade) 3:53 pm, 26th June 2018

I welcome the motion before the House today. As with the previous debate, I believe this is a logical and sensible approach as we move through Brexit into the transition and into renegotiating these matters. The Democratic Unionist party will therefore be supporting the motion.

In Northern Ireland, we have a number of Japanese-owned businesses. This has happened more through an organic approach, whereby companies have been taken over by Japanese companies. However, I had the opportunity to go to Japan with a trade mission a few years ago and I could certainly see huge opportunities, which will only help and which I think will be good. I believe this is a good deal.

I think some will be surprised by the comments and criticisms that have been made today, particularly on process, but there is a very easy answer to them. It is only through the United Kingdom leaving the customs union and leaving a customs union that we can put in place our own meaningful processes on international trade. European Union processes, in relation both to this motion and to the previous motion on CETA, have flushed out a number of key issues relating to investors, arbitration and services. I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement about looking at services and their potential as we move forward and renegotiate the deals that are in place. The experience of the European Union in such deals provides valuable learning opportunities that can inform our way forward as the United Kingdom takes responsibility for this policy area.

We have heard many different contributions from across the House about free trade, which we proudly support. The Secretary of State has also said, however, that free trade does not mean trade without rules. Brexit provides the opportunity for a meaningful discussion and debate, for the first time in a long time, on what the rules should be for the United Kingdom.

Fundamentally, international trade deals must be good for all parties. They must be positive for business, consumers and our economy, and for building international relationships. To listen to many, including in this place, there seems to be much confusion about that. I have no doubt that our UK negotiators and the UK Government must—and will—go and fight for the best deal, and a good deal, for the United Kingdom with the European Union and in trade deals globally. However, that must take into consideration our UK regional interests. It must also take account of Northern Ireland interests.

The freedom to make our own trade deals undoubtedly brings opportunities, but sadly they have been drowned out by so much negativity. I believe that not having a proper and meaningful debate thus far about the potential for trade deals, free of the European Union, is sad for business and bad for business. We need to move on and embrace the opportunities that Brexit will bring. The Secretary of State will be aware of the very strong desire to do so of many in business and the strong advice on economic impacts relating to the importance of EU-third party trade deals to the UK economy. I support the Government’s policy on rolling forward the EU third-party trade deals with some 40 countries. Some will be surprised that there has been opposition from the Labour Front Bench team today to the Canadian and the Japanese deals, and, since it is the Government’s policy to roll forward the existing deals with all 40 countries, there needs to be an indication now of which of those deals Labour Front Benchers no longer support and feel should be renegotiated.