Trade Bill - Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 21st January 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Fairhead Baroness Fairhead The Minister of State, Department for International Trade 6:00 pm, 21st January 2019

My Lords, Clause 1 allows for the implementation of the UK’s independent accession to the GPA in domestic procurement legislation. The power is simple and is limited in its scope. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, for the amendment and I understand that he seeks, through Amendment 4A, to receive a statement from a Minister on the impact of a no-deal exit from the EU on the GPA. I hope that I can offer some reassurances to the Committee on the progress made towards the UK’s accession to the GPA as an independent member

On 27 November, the UK’s independent market access offer to the GPA was approved in principle by the WTO GPA committee. We are glad that our international partners supported the UK’s continued participation in the GPA as we leave the EU and we look forward to finalising the UK’s continued participation shortly. This was the culmination of a great deal of work from officials and my ministerial colleagues both in my department and across Whitehall. The UK is now nearing the end of its process of accession to the GPA, which will ensure our independent membership and continuity of participation.

Every effort is being made across all parties to find a solution for a withdrawal agreement, and agreed implementation will mean that the GPA will take a similar approach to other international agreements and continue our participation during this time under the EU schedules. We are committed to working to provide continuity across all our existing trade agreements. In the unlikely event that no withdrawal agreement can be agreed, the UK’s accession to the GPA will continue to progress as we leave the EU.

I hope that I have reassured the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, that continuity of market access for UK businesses is very much the Government’s priority, and that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.