GATT: Article 24

Exiting the European Union – in the House of Commons on 27th June 2019.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

What discussions he has had with the European Commission on the applicability of Article 24 of the WTO General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in relation to the UK leaving the EU.

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

The Government and the European Commission have been clear that our trading relationship must comply with WTO rules. Under the withdrawal agreement, the implementation period is compatible with GATT article 24. In addition, paragraph 17 of the political declaration envisages the UK and the EU forming a free trade area, which will also be compatible with article 24.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

On an all-party visit to the World Trade Organisation, it was made clear that if there was the prospect of a negotiated free trade agreement in the future, tariff-free trade could continue. Does the Minister agree that if the EU does not agree to that negotiated free trade in the future, which would allow tariff-free trade on leaving, that will be because it wants to punish the UK, not come to the best agreement in the interests of its people?

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I am not in a position to credibly assess the motivations of the European Union. The British Government’s position has been clear—it is a long-standing position—that it is in our mutual interest to come to a trading relationship between the UK and the EU. We will continue to seek to do so.