EU Trade Agreements: Replication

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:55 pm on 13th February 2019.

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Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade 12:55 pm, 13th February 2019

As ever, my right hon. and learned Friend raises interesting points. Although there would undoubtedly be a greater risk in the case of no deal, I do not agree that this would be disastrous, because we are likely to maintain a high proportion of the continuity of these agreements. Let me just remind him that five of those 40 agreements represent 76% of the trade, by value, that falls into this category. My Department has developed a great degree of expertise and knowledge in the process of transitioning to new agreements. There are those who say, “If we end up getting a deal, much of this work that has been done will be wasted.” I completely disagree with that, as it has created a body of knowledge, experience and expertise in the Department that will stand us in good stead. As for our ability to negotiate with other countries, we remain the world’s fifth biggest economy and many countries have said to us that it would be much easier to do an agreement with the UK as a single country which would then negotiate and ratify than to have to do it with 28 countries, as they do at the moment. On Japan, we have of course made clear our position and finished our public consultation on potential membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific PartnershipCPTPP—a subject on which we are likely to have a debate in this House next week. Finally, he asks whether we should not stay in a customs union. That would preclude us from having negotiations on new agreements, such as with the United States, or even with China, with which the EU has no agreement at the present time.