UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

International Trade – in the House of Commons on 19th November 2020.

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Photo of Antony Higginbotham Antony Higginbotham Conservative, Burnley

What steps her Department has taken to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises in the north-west of England can benefit from the UK-Japan comprehensive economic partnership agreement.

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

Our deal with Japan secures opportunities for businesses in the north-west, which currently export goods worth £380 million to Japan. We have agreed an SME chapter that will make it easier for SMEs to cut the red tape on customs and ensure they have access to a dedicated website of opportunities.

Photo of Antony Higginbotham Antony Higginbotham Conservative, Burnley

Burnley has a significant engineering sector, creating highly specialised parts for aircraft and cars, so will my right hon. Friend tell us what impact the UK-Japan deal will have on those businesses in Burnley?

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

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the aerospace and automotive industry is incredibly important for Burnley. That is why it was important that we saw all the tariff benefits that were previously negotiated retained in the new deal, as well as additional benefits, such as a new data and digital chapter that goes far beyond what the EU has agreed and really helps to support our advanced manufacturing sector.

Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade

The Secretary of State has repeatedly claimed that the deal that she signed with Japan goes far beyond the original EU-Japan deal, so I return to the question that I asked her two months ago: will she tell us, in billions of pounds and percentages of growth, what the forecast benefits are for UK exports in GDP from her deal, compared with the forecast benefits of retaining the existing EU-Japan deal?

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

It is interesting that the right hon. Lady is interested in the difference, because the Labour party did not support the original deal with Japan. If it was down to Labour, we would not even have this deal in the first place. We have been very clear about the additional benefits that we have secured: better provisions on digital and data, better provisions on business mobility, a better position on intellectual property, better protection of British geographical indicators—[Interruption.] Bill Esterson is shouting, “How much is it worth?” from a sedentary position? Why, when we have left the EU, do Labour Members constantly seek to compare us with the existing EU provisions? It is almost like the Labour party never wanted us to leave in the first place.

Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade

What is going on? The Secretary of State claims that the UK-Japan deal goes far beyond the EU-Japan deal but will not quantify the difference. Why not? If she will not publish the exact figures at this point, will she at least do one basic thing and simply state on the parliamentary record whether the growth in our exports and GDP is forecast to be higher as a result of the UK-Japan deal than it was under the EU-Japan deal?

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

I think it is extraordinary that the right hon. Lady is asking me to carry out economic analysis on behalf of the EU. She has not asked me about the Australia-Japan deal and whether that is better or about the deal that China has with Japan or any other deals. Why is she me asking me about the EU? We have left the EU, and it is no longer our responsibility to do economic calculations for it. I have been clear, however, that this deal goes further and faster and brings in additional economic benefits.