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Amendment 31

Part of Trade Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Brown of Cambridge Baroness Brown of Cambridge Crossbench 6:30 pm, 13th March 2019

My Lords, Amendments 31 and 32 are in my name and those of my noble friend Lord Kinnoull and the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering. Amendment 31 relates to the presumption in favour of adoption of trade measures and it will be familiar to noble Lords from Committee.

The Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act sets the overarching rules under which the UK’s new Trade Remedies Authority will operate. The Act does not have a clear or explicit presumption in favour of adoption of trade measures akin to the EU equivalent, the Union interest test. Considering whether measures are in the interests of the UK involves taking into account five different sets of interests. In doing that, unlike the EU approach, the Act does not give priority or special consideration to the interests of the complainant industry. That special consideration gives the EU test a presumption in favour of adoption of measures, which is absent in the UK Act. While government amendments on Report of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act improved the wording around the economic interest test, and Ministers have privately assured manufacturers that the intention is that there is a presumption in favour of adoption of the measures, the words contained in the Act fall short of such a presumption.

I thank the Minister for helpful meetings with me and my noble friend Lord Kinnoull on this issue, and I hope that, in her reply, she will be able to clarify the presumption that the TRA will apply when it conducts the test. An explicit reference to special consideration of the need to remove injurious dumping would be particularly helpful.

Amendment 32 relates to the way that the detailed rules for the operation of trade remedies will be scrutinised. These rules will have profound impacts on UK manufacturers’ ability to level the playing field when overseas competitors do not play by the rules. Many of those rules about the operation of trade remedies will come through secondary legislation as a result of provisions in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act. Trade policy generally, including specific issues such as these, is of such importance that we should be discussing it frequently in your Lordships’ House—a sentiment that I believe the Minister might also support. Amendment 32 would require the statutory instruments to be affirmative instruments, to be discussed and approved by resolution of both Houses. I am interested to hear from the Minister about the opportunities that your Lordships’ House will have to debate important trade policy issues. I beg to move.