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Covid-19: Trade Barriers

International Trade – in the House of Commons on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

What assessment she has made of the effect of trade barriers to UK exports on the UK’s contribution to the global economic recovery from the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)

The hon. Lady is right to highlight the negative impact of trade barriers. OECD analysis shows that cutting tariffs and addressing unnecessary costs associated with non-tariff measures could increase trade by more than 20% among G20 economies. We are working to remove barriers for UK exporters around the world—from helping British beef and lamb to export in Japan to obtaining geographic protection for Scotch whisky in Indonesia.

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The most recent WTO review saw G20 economies implement 28 new trade-restrictive measures, estimated to cover around $460 billion of trade, and import-restrictive measures in force for the period January-October 2019 are now estimated to cover $1.6 trillion, suggesting that import restrictions have continued to grow. It is obvious that we need resilience in our economies, but does the Minister agree that that cannot be an excuse to engage in economic protectionism or simply close down value chains?

Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)

I entirely agree with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Lady; she is absolutely right. Pre-covid, over the past decade, perhaps since the financial crash, there has been an increase in the number of trade barriers that have been erected, which is why, as an independent nation once again, we are so determined to champion free trade and to use the WTO and the other international fora referred to by colleagues to make sure that we make that case. It will lead to prosperity for all.