EU Free Trade Agreements

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:40 am on 24th January 2019.

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Photo of George Hollingbery George Hollingbery Minister of State (International Trade) 10:40 am, 24th January 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. It is interesting to observe, and the House should understand, that a good proportion—I do not have the exact number in my head—of the 12% of trade that is represented by the countries with which the European Union has existing free trade deals is not carried out under preferences in any event because the particular lines in which they trade are not covered by the agreements, so the figure is actually quite a lot less. [Interruption.] Mr Sheerman says from a sedentary position, “So it’s all just fine.” No, of course that is not the case. I have tried to make the point again and again that we regard this as extremely important.

On my hon. Friend’s reference to inward investment, Deloitte recently pointed out that the UK is the leading location in Europe for foreign direct investment. In the three years from 2015 to 2017, we enjoyed £140 billion-worth of direct investment from overseas—more than France, at £44 billion, and Germany, at £50 billion, combined.