Trade Deals: Human Rights Provisions

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

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Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement

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

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

This Government have a strong history of promoting our values globally, including human rights. While our approach to agreements will vary between partners, our strong economic relationships allow us to have open discussions on a range of issues, including on human rights. We will not compromise our high standards in trade agreements.

Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement

In September, the UN said that the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen had led to

“a consistent pattern of harms to civilians” unlike our own Government who said in July that there was no such pattern and therefore it was lawful to resume arms exports. Can the Minister tell me how his Government have looked at the same evidence as the UN and arrived at such vastly different conclusions?

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

May I remind the hon. Lady, as the Secretary of State said earlier in response to a question from Emily Thornberry, that the UK has one of the most rigorous arms control regimes in the world? We follow the consolidated criteria at all times. On trade agreements, I ask her to judge us on our deeds and not always on our words. In terms of the trade agreements that we have rolled over, there has been no diminution of human rights clauses in any of those agreements.