UK/US Trade Agreement: Thames Valley

International Trade – in the House of Commons on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

What assessment she has made of the potential economic benefits to the Thames valley of a trade agreement with the US.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

An ambitious United States free trade agreement could boost the economy in the south-east, including the Thames valley, by £622 million in the long run, supporting the growth of key local industries such as professional business services, and automotive and digital businesses. The FTA presents a golden opportunity for the region, which has a thriving trade with America, with the equivalent of £14,000 of goods exported to the US every minute.

Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

The Thames valley is home to many high- tech businesses, not least in the north of my constituency of Buckingham crossing into Northamptonshire at Silverstone Park. Can my right hon. Friend outline the steps he is taking to ensure that we are supporting high-tech businesses at places such as Silverstone Park to grow, prosper and bring global solutions in areas such as low-carbon transport, and that they are at the forefront of our negotiations for a free trade deal with the United States?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

May I start by congratulating my hon. Friend yet again on being a brilliant new representative for the Buckingham constituency? The Silverstone technology cluster includes excellent tech and start-up companies such as Advanced Automotive Technologies, Altair Engineering, room44 e-bikes and many more. Those are exactly the kind of companies that we want to see exporting more to the USA and to benefit from fewer hurdles to trade. That is why both sides want an SME chapter in the trade deal.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy)

The Government’s own figures show that a US trade deal could raise the north-east’s economy by a maximum of 0.4% a year and that a no-deal Brexit will cut the north-east’s economy by up to 10%. Is this the Government’s idea of levelling up—to destroy thousands of jobs in the north-east?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

The hon. Member does not do this question justice. Our objective, of course, is to have both a very good free trade deal with the European Union and a new trade deal with the United States of America, which would have the potential to raise the gross value added of the north-eastern region by some £170 million. She should join us, work with us and ensure that the benefits of these deals can be heard by all her constituents across the region.