Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

UK-US Trade Deal

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:37 pm on 2nd March 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities 5:37 pm, 2nd March 2020

I am pleased that the Opposition have acknowledged that there is value in trade deals and, indeed, in a trade deal with the US, because previously many of them have voted against trade deals with Canada and Japan. It is hard to understand who they actually want to do any business with.

The hon. Gentleman asked specifically about the trade arrangements with the EU; the simple answer is that we want a good trade deal with the EU and a good trade deal with the US. That is absolutely possible. Canada has an excellent trade deal with the EU and we want similar terms to it, and it also has a very good trade deal with the US, with an advanced digital chapter. It should be perfectly possible for us to seek such an arrangement that enables us to unlock the economic benefits of a deal with the US.

It takes a party with the economic literacy of the current Labour party to think that £15.3 billion of additional trade is not worth having. Why does the hon. Gentleman not tell that to the people of Stoke-on-Trent and the ceramics factories that could benefit? Why does he not say that to the midlands car manufacturers who want easier testing procedures? Why does he not say that to the people of Scotland, which is one of the regions that would benefit most from a free trade deal with the United States? The hon. Gentleman asked me about the other deals that we are seeking—[Interruption.] Does he want to hear the answer to the next bit? He asked me about the other deals that we are working on at the moment. I will, in due course, be laying out our proposals for a deal with Japan, Australia and New Zealand. I can assure him that we will be publishing the full economic scoping studies, as we have for the United States, and we will be publishing objectives for those arrangements as well, in line with the commitments that we have made to Parliament. I am fully committed to working with Parliament on these arrangements. Of course, a treaty is an Executive prerogative, but, at the same time I will be working with the International Trade Committee and making sure that we have proper scrutiny. We have been working with the devolved Administrations. My right hon. Friend the Minister for trade policy has had regular meetings with his colleagues in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The hon. Gentleman does not seem to have heard what I said about food standards and animal welfare. We will not be diminishing or lowering our standards as part of a US trade deal, and we will not be paying more for drugs prices in the NHS. That is clearly laid out in our objectives for everyone to read. Were the US to demand that—I do not believe that that will be the case—we will simply walk away. As he pointed out, we are already trading well with the US. If we do not get what we want from this agreement, we will walk away.

Finally, I want to make a point about British agriculture. As a former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, I am a great believer in the fantastic products that we produce in this country. I believe that they should be available in more countries around the world. I want UK beef and lamb to be on US shelves. I want the tariffs on dairy products, which can be as high as 18%—[Interruption.] Indeed, on cheese products as well. I want those tariffs to be lowered so that we can get more of our fantastic products into the US market. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman reads today’s scoping assessment, which shows that UK agriculture will benefit economically from a trade deal with the US.