Business and Trade – in the House of Commons on 23rd March 2023.
Whether her Department is taking steps to help increase trade with Ukrainian businesses.
Supporting Ukraine is a Government priority. On Monday, I signed the UK-Ukraine digital trade agreement, Ukraine’s first ever digital trade deal, guaranteeing access to the UK’s financial services sector, which is crucial for their reconstruction efforts.
My right hon. Friend’s Department has this week published a guide to doing business in Ukraine. Can she outline what this industry guidance sets out and how businesses can get further information if they need it?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for highlighting the guide to doing business in Ukraine that my Department published. It provides an overview of the Ukrainian market, including setting out Ukraine’s reconstruction needs and the expected financing and procurement routes for reconstruction projects. It is accompanied by information on the business environment, trading agreements between our countries and logistical guidance. The information is intended to help businesses considering working in and with Ukraine to understand how their market works and encourage industry to increase trade with Ukraine.
Maybe one of the best ways to assist in increasing trade with Ukraine is to limit the opportunities for the Russian Federation to access Scottish limited partnerships. Does the Secretary of State agree that there is still time to improve and strengthen the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill to limit them?
In co-ordination with our allies, we have implemented the most severe economic sanctions ever imposed on any major economy and will maintain pressure on the Russian regime to secure peace. If the hon. Gentleman will write to me with more detail about what he is referring to, I can look into it, but I assure him that this Government are doing everything we can within the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill to ensure the integrity of our economy and our allies.
I also took part in a very sobering visit to Ukraine last month and saw for myself the utter devastation of homes, businesses and infrastructure, with World Bank estimates of reconstruction costs now at some $630 billion. In spite of warm words, we still have no clear plan from the Government for the seizure of Russian state assets that could be used for the recovery of Ukrainian businesses and the reconstruction of Ukraine. Now that the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Putin, and with the United States, the European Union and Canada already looking to seize assets, can the Secretary of State tell us when the Government will set out how they will seize frozen Russian state assets?
As I said in my earlier answer, we have introduced the largest and most severe economic sanctions ever imposed on a major economy. We have sanctioned £20 billion, or 96%, of UK-Russia goods trade from 2021. Since the start of the invasion, UK goods imports from Russia have fallen by 99% and goods exports to Russia have fallen by 80%. Sanctions have sent Russia into a severe and sustained economic recession. Of course we will do all we can, but not all of the things the Opposition are asking for have easy mechanisms to deliver.