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UK-US Trade Deal

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

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Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade) 5:37 pm, 2nd March 2020

I thank the Minister for her statement and early sight of it. It is true that the analysis published today, which forms part of these documents, does provide some very useful information. It tells us that the maximum tariff reduction will be less than half a billion pounds, that the maximum increase in UK GDP would be 0.16%, that the maximum increase in gross value added for Scotland would be less than half a per cent—0.4%—and that, in the long-run, financial services GVA might actually go down. Yet in order to achieve these decidedly underwhelming targets, the UK will have to leave the European Union, surrender around 5% of GDP growth, and risk around 20% of UK global trade.

More worryingly, a pattern is emerging in the UK’s approach to trade negotiations. In the document on the future relationship with the EU, the UK seeks to exclude subsidies, competition policy, and environmental, tax and labour provisions from any dispute resolution mechanism. In today’s UK-US public negotiating objectives —only four pages of the total published today—there is limited reference to competition, labour and environment provision, nothing on subsidy or tax, and a single vague bullet point on dispute resolution that would enforce the level playing field and avoid the race to the bottom.

Apart from the environment, the Secretary of State mentioned none of those things in her statement. Let me ask her this: why are the UK Government giving the impression of abandoning level playing field provisions across so many aspects of modern trade deals? Why are they giving the impression that they are in favour of a wild west free-for-all in trade rather than a comprehensive rules-based system with a comprehensive dispute resolution mechanism? Why are they prepared to sacrifice so much in terms of global UK trade and GDP growth to secure what, by their own admission, are very, very modest gains indeed?