Trade Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Fairhead Baroness Fairhead The Minister of State, Department for International Trade 4:45 pm, 30th January 2019

As the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, will be aware, that was an opposition amendment, with which the Government did not agree. The Government are reflecting on those words and I do not think he can assume that they will necessarily accept that.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh raised the issue of what would happen in a no-deal scenario and asked whether non-discrimination would apply. The noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, is correct; there is no reciprocal obligation if we set our tariffs at zero. That is why the Government have been clear that a deal is the best thing and we are doing all we possibly can to achieve that.

Amendment 51, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, seeks to secure a binding commitment from the EU on the EU’s own future trade agreements. As I said, our priority for the UK-EU relationship is for it to be as frictionless as possible. Regarding the objective of this amendment, we believe it is inappropriate for one sovereign state to seek such a commitment from another sovereign country or territory. Moreover, the EU would not offer the UK such a binding commitment because the EU’s own trade agreements are a matter for negotiation between the EU and its third countries. For this reason, the objective of this amendment would be an empty one for the Government. Furthermore, if the EU chose to recognise the UK content, it would be for the EU to choose how to implement that with its trading partners.

I come again to the point from the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, on the cost of certifications and certification of origin. The certificates of origin used to export to each partner country will be the same as they are now. Businesses will use those certificates as they currently do. For UK-EU trade, the UK is proposing no routine rules of origin, so no additional burden will be placed on business. That of course will be for negotiation with the EU. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Lilley, first, for his expertise on this matter, but also for pointing out the report—which I confess I had not read either—on the costs of compliance.