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Human Rights

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

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Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

What recent discussions she has had with UK trade partners on including clauses on human rights in future trade deals.

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

The UK has a strong history of safeguarding human rights and promoting our values globally. Our strong economic relationships with trading partners allow the Government to have open discussions on a range of important issues, including human rights. We continue to encourage all states to uphold international human rights obligations.

Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

Twenty-one countries have been listed where negotiations are ongoing with regard to rolling over existing trade agreements beyond 31 December. A number of those countries have shockingly poor human rights records, including Cameroon, Egypt, Singapore, Uganda and South Sudan. Will the Minister tell us whether human rights are part of those discussions? Also, in order to ensure that there is no saying one thing and doing another while everyone is diverted by coronavirus, will he guarantee the inclusion of human rights clauses in any eventual deals?

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

I think the hon. Lady is referring to the various EU agreements. She was a passionate campaigner —and, I think, still is—to remain in the EU. Of course, if we had remained we would still be in those trade agreements with the self-same countries that she mentioned, but we are clear that the UK will remain a strong voice for human rights and that more trade does not have to come at the expense of human rights, and we will continue to encourage all states to uphold international human rights obligations.