Examination of Witnesses

Trade Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:10 pm on 23 January 2018.

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Anastassia Beliakova, Stephen Jones, William Bain and Edward Bowles gave evidence.

Q I welcome and thank all four of our witnesses and particularly our former colleague, Mr Bain; we are glad to see you back here. I am sorry to be tough and difficult, but thank you all very much for taking time out to come and give evidence to us this afternoon. Perhaps you would like to introduce yourselves for the record, starting with Mr Bowles.

Edward Bowles:

I am Edward Bowles, managing director at Standard Chartered Bank.

Stephen Jones:

I am Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance.

Anastassia Beliakova:

I am Anastassia Beliakova, head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce.

William Bain:

I am William Bain, international trade and Europe policy adviser for the British Retail Consortium.

No, it is Mr Bowles.

Edward Bowles:

Correct.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade

Q I will kick off, then, with the British Retail Consortium. [Laughter.] I am just keeping you on your toes!

The BRC has identified, among others, the agreements involving Norway and Turkey as the most significant of our EU FTAs. Of course, the Government have already indicated that there will be an end to free movement, which rules out simply replicating the Norway model, and that we will leave the customs union, which rules out simply rolling over the Turkish model, so what elements of the agreements—not just those two, but the others—do you consider it most important to replicate on substantially the same terms?

William Bain:

The key provisions are those on tariffs, because if the UK leaves the European Union, it is not part of the EU’s common external tariff system, and we could then face higher tariffs on imported goods. A great deal depends on the kind of transitional arrangements that are adopted, but the kind of additional MFN tariffs that would apply would be 12% in relation to clothing from Turkey, 13% in relation to soft fruit from Chile and Peru and 27% on imported processed canned tuna from the Seychelles. Those would, I think, lead retailers and consumers to face considerable price pressures, so the main element that we would want to see is replication of the zero-tariff or low-tariff provisions on imports.

The other key areas that are very difficult in terms of replication and, we believe, may require a degree of assistance from the European Union are in relation to rules of origin. For example, with the Canada trade agreement, there is a complex rule of origin. The same is true in relation to South Korea. I think that diagonal cumulation is involved in the rules of origin in respect of the CARIFORUM trade agreements.

These are areas where it seems that time is running out, the clock is ticking, and a solution needs to be found if British business and British consumers are not to face a large cliff edge in March 2019.

Anastassia Beliakova:

Absolutely. Rules of origin are a headache for businesses, and if we consider that there is the likelihood, in the roll-over of existing trade agreements, that they may have to comply with tougher rules of origin or that some of the benefits that they currently get by counting both EU and UK origin as single origin might be lost, that is very concerning. For about one in seven of our members, the existence of a free trade agreement is the determining factor in whether they export to or import from a country. I urge the Government to give stronger assurances for those agreements, as Mr Bain has mentioned, that already provide for, or have clauses mentioning, diagonal cumulation, but also to look at all the EU trade agreements and particularly those that have the greatest economic significance for the UK, and open up those discussions to provide for that as they are rolled over into UK-third country FTAs.

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South

Q I would like to put to the panel the same question I asked the previous panel about part 3 of the Bill, which relates to trade information and the collection of exporter information by HMRC in particular. Are you content with the content of the Bill in this part? Is there anything missing or do you foresee any practical difficulties in HMRC collating this information?

Anastassia Beliakova:

Not at first glance. However, the wider picture around trade data is that trade data is imperfect. It is particularly lacking when it comes to services, of course, and when it comes to intra-EU trading data. That is where we currently have significant gaps. If, in the future, there can be a more robust collection of data and stronger assessments of UK-third country trade, that would be helpful.

Stephen Jones:

I have nothing to add.

Edward Bowles:

Obviously, the collection of data is largely in respect of goods that cross borders. It is very difficult to do that for services, so I would have thought that a way of more robustly measuring cross-border flows of services would be quite an important thing to look at, so that you can get a better grip on revenue as much as anything else. Largely, it is more on the goods side than it is on the services side.

Photo of Faisal Rashid Faisal Rashid Labour, Warrington South

Q My question is to Mr Bowles: one of your chief economists for the African region noted that African countries such as Kenya were extremely concerned about having to renegotiate trade agreements with the EU and the UK. However, she concluded—her name is Razia Khan—that this process has taken many years already. Can you tell us what your views are on how long these deals will take and what difficulties will be encountered in the negotiations, from your point of view?

Edward Bowles:

The great thing about having economists is that they are independent of those of us who do jobs outside of research. Razia is an expert in her own right and would be the best placed person to speak to those issues.

In fact, they are not really trade agreements; they are economic partnership agreements that the EU has with most African, sub-Saharan and, indeed, subcontinent markets. It is certainly true that they have undergone a high degree of revision under the current Commission’s administration. I am not aware, frankly, of any overwhelming dissatisfaction. I attended a recent meeting only two months ago between quite a lot of these markets and Cecilia Malmström, so things do seem to be moving in a good direction. The question is what the UK’s approach would be to that and how much it might be minded to depart, if at all, from the approach. The starting point must be simply to mirror the current arrangements, as was said on Second Reading and in the Government’s response to the consultation on the Trade Bill.

Photo of Faisal Rashid Faisal Rashid Labour, Warrington South

Mr Jones, would you like to add anything?

Stephen Jones:

No, I have nothing specific to add in relation to Africa in general.

On a more generic point in relation to the Trade Bill, it is obviously focused on existing trade agreements and economic partnership agreements. From a services perspective, we need to look beyond that and reflect on arrangements that exist beyond that, which are critical to the cross-border flow of trade in services, because there are very few provisions and services agreements in trade treaties that relate to services. There are lots of mutual recognitions and memorandums of understanding that relate to infrastructure, to recognition and co-operation between supervisors, to the flow of data and to the recognition of exchanges, but which do not exist within the context of a trade agreement. They nevertheless facilitate cross-border trade in services that already exists between the EU—including the UK—and other jurisdictions. It is very important that we do not lose sight of those specific provisions, but seek to mirror them so far as the financial services industry is concerned, simply because the existing trade treaty provision is so poor in services.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade)

Stephen Jones, you are the UK Finance representative. Sorry, it has been a long day. Can I ask about the written evidence you gave to the Procedure Committee, where you indicated the benefits of a triage or sifting process and stated how you might apply those when looking at new trade agreements? For the purposes of the phrase “new trade agreements”, given some of the evidence we have heard today, can we include anything that changes the agreements that are part of this Bill? Can you explain what you think the merit of such an approach would be, how you might apply it, and the importance of such a sifting process?

Stephen Jones:

Given the time available in the context of Brexit, from the perspective of the financial services industry, clearly continuity, speed and the correct process and scrutiny to transpose the existing trade arrangements that the EU has with the rest of the world to the UK are incredibly important for continuity. That does not directly benefit the financial services industry. It benefits mostly the customers of the financial services industry, but in that context it is very important.

To the extent that your question relates to prioritising whether one should seek to amend the agreements in order to ensure more robust coverage of services within the context of those agreements, I think that in the first phase that is unrealistic. There is not enough time. What we need is as much certainty as we can get. Business in general needs as much certainty as it can get in terms of the transposition of the existing EU arrangements.

In terms of the ongoing amendment of those treaties to seek to extend them and prioritise what should be done—the sifting process, if you like, for services—we can develop a modus operandi in terms of markets that are important. However, as I say, there are significant factors beyond trade agreements that influence the ability to conduct cross-border business between the UK and the rest of the world. Those are a susceptibility to inward investment; strong regulatory and supervisory co-operation; aspects of data protection and the willingness to mutually recognise the cross-border sharing of data; and infrastructure, with the recognition on a cross-border basis of critical market infrastructure in each jurisdiction, such that member firms in each place are able to access and utilise the infrastructure in the other country. To the extent that that can be captured within a trade agreement, that is great.

To date, that has failed and our focus very much is on an ambition for the UK with the EU to seek to build an ambitious free trade agreement that has not been attempted in services anywhere else in the world. But we believe it should be attempted in the current context, simply because of the importance of the cross-dependencies that already exist and the fact that we are starting with a fully converged rulebook, which is extremely unusual in a trade negotiation context. So we believe that there is the prospect of an ambitious mutual recognition-based trade agreement in services between the UK and the EU and that potentially should be the first focus, to the extent that we are talking about prioritisation of negotiation of trade agreements.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade)

Q Presumably you are talking about services with the EU during transition, given what you said previously about the short period of time between now and leave day.

Stephen Jones:

I think we are talking about beyond transition. From a transition perspective, the only realistic thing that we believe can be achieved is a prolongation of the acquis, which is a full adoption of the existing rule book lock, stock and barrel. The chances of seeking to amend or renegotiate that in the time that is available are wholly unrealistic, and what is far more important is certainty through the transition period. The only way you can deliver that certainty is simply to take forward the existing rule book.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade)

Q I do not know whether you heard the earlier evidence. Some witnesses have made points about the shortage of time, but they have also said there is a tension between time and getting it right. Given the short period of time, do you see a danger that agreement without a degree of scrutiny leaves problems that will be very hard to undo later?

Stephen Jones:

In terms of the prolongation of the acquis—that is, the adoption of rules on day one—in a sense those rules are already on for the purposes of transition. Those rules have already been adopted by the UK. I recognise the sovereignty of Parliament and the importance of scrutiny, but to the extent that the rules are not being changed we are simply extending arrangements that continue to exist. The Bill’s provisions relating to Ministers’ 10-year power to use secondary legislation to renegotiate those rules strike me as pretty broad-brush, and they potentially should benefit from greater parliamentary scrutiny than is currently contemplated.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade)

Q Just so I get this right and we do not misquote you, anything that carries on beyond 29 March 2019 must carry on with no changes to meet the requirements that you have just set out.

Stephen Jones:

Broadly, I do not think it is realistic to expect changes. In that context, the secondary legislation ministerial power provisions are broadly acceptable, but beyond that, to the extent that arrangements are adapted to the UK as an independent country with its own trade policy, I would suggest that they merit parliamentary scrutiny.

William Bain:

The nature of the transition impinges on terms in the Bill, and the retail industry is keen to have a standstill transition in all elements—in terms of the current customs rules, the current tariff rules and the current SPS rules—but it also applies to the trade facilitation that we get from the bilateral trade agreements, which fit into part 1 of the Bill. I cannot stress how important it is to the retail sector, which imports products from countries like Chile, Peru, South Africa and Turkey, that we do not have a discontinuity in our trading arrangements at any stage after 29 March 2019. There are some connections and points of commonality with the kind of transitional deal that is done, but in a sense this is a slightly separate question. It really demands clear attention from the Government in order to get the job done by 29 March next year.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade

Q I want to pursue what Mr Jones said. We have got away from the initial question of the sift Committee. You stressed the urgency of this and the need to try to get things through as quickly as possible, and you adopted an approach to delegated powers and Henry VIII powers of, “Well, maybe they’re necessary in the circumstances”. However, it was your organisation that recommended that there should be a sift Committee in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Would that not be an appropriate way of trying to say, “What we’re talking about here is a minor change to an existing agreement, but this is actually a major change”?

We are talking about 100 separate agreements between the EU and Switzerland alone, some of which include free movement of people. There are going to be some major changes, such as those we talked about with Turkey and the customs union, and with Norway, free movement of people and the four freedoms. Do you not think, given that you have already recommended a sift Committee in one form, that a similar sort of mechanism for trying to distinguish between what is and what is not vital, and what should have parliamentary scrutiny, is a sensible way to proceed?

Stephen Jones:

Yes, sorry; forgive me for the lack of clarity. My reference was really to the existing provisions between the UK and the EU in relation to financial services. In my assessment, for the purposes of transition and of business services in financial services, the chances of change, and therefore of the need for sift, are zero. There just is not the time. In the context of other areas, where there is an assessment that change is possible, the sift Committee strikes me as a very sensible mechanism to prioritise and assess those changes and the degree of scrutiny that is required.

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk Conservative, Hertford and Stortford

Q Mr Bain was very clear about the importance of continuity to business. Can I ask the chambers of commerce in particular, but also other witnesses, about that issue? Clearly, the Bill is about the continuity of existing arrangements. How important is that principle of continuity to your members?

Anastassia Beliakova:

It is absolutely critical. Our members are operating on the assumption that during a transition period there will be continuity in our trading arrangements not just with the EU but with all the other markets with which we have a trade agreement of some sort. The working assumption is that they should not be making any changes currently or planning for significant changes in trading conditions in March 2019. Of course we are still waiting for greater clarity from the EU on this over the coming months, but I cannot stress enough that in the immediate future the continuity in our trading relationship with the EU during transition is critical. Our continuity, looking further ahead, with the other markets, is also something that our members want to count on.

Stephen Jones:

Continuity is very important, particularly through the transition period and on an ongoing basis. We believe that there is an opportunity for a free trade agreement in services between the UK and the EU that prolongs many of the existing arrangements, which are beneficial on a cross-border basis, particularly in markets for wholesale financial services and markets affecting professional counterparties and market-based counterparties, where cross-border provision, passporting and mutual recognition are important to the efficient working of trade not just in financial services but in goods—not just in the UK but in the EU as well.

The economic case for maintaining much of the existing arrangement is significant, but we are, as you know, working with a negotiation envelope as far as the EU is concerned that appears to require change—to require the UK to have less access than previously, in a visible sense. So we need to be seen, I guess, within the context of that envelope, to prioritise what is important for both sides in financial services. In our assessment it is more of the capital, derivative, centralised clearing and—outside my remit but clearly very important—insurance and reinsurance markets, which are professional-to-professional markets operating on a seamless and cross-border basis across Europe, the disruption of which would be quite significant. In those circumstances maintaining as much as we can of the existing establishment regulatory supervisory arrangements around those business activities will be important for the UK economy, but equally for the continental European economy as well.

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk Conservative, Hertford and Stortford

Mr Bowles, is that your take as well?

Edward Bowles:

There are two things I want to say. One is that the lead time involved for change for a regulated industry—and it is not just financial services but, my guess is, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, among others—is so long that, to give you an idea, to create a subsidiary where you do not have one, even in a market where you may have a branch, is a minimum 18-month project plan timeframe from beginning to end, and in some cases longer depending on the breadth of products you are dealing with and the number of regulatory approvals involved. Therefore, a degree of clarity around the future timeframe and the continuity in that timeframe is critical. Otherwise you end up creating a high degree of uncertainty, not just for the regulated entities but for all their clients—thousands of clients who would be forced, with scrambling and redocumentation, to look to a different legal entity and to price and measure risk in a different way from the way they are used to doing it with the current entity.

Continuity is key, but the working assumption, as Stephen said, is that there will be change. The question is when that change will come, and whether it will be in one step or more than one step. Will we have sufficient clarity that when we deliver the end state it will be the final end state? That is why the transitional period is critical to get us to the point where the framework gives us a high degree of visibility over what the end state might be.

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk Conservative, Hertford and Stortford

Q On the financial services side, can we look at the issue of remedies? Clearly, in the current set of arrangements that is frankly irrelevant in a strict legal sense to you as a sector but, looking forward, the TRA is clearly not going to disappear in two years’ time or after however long the transition period lasts. Therefore, looking at the longer term, what is the relevance to financial services and what are the critical issues that you will be looking for in an effective remedies regime at that stage? Perhaps you can just give us one or two highlights to give us a sense. We have heard about goods so far, which is very important, but obviously services matter as well.

Stephen Jones:

I defer to Mr Bowles on this—given his experience with TTIP and equivalent regimes.

Edward Bowles:

Obviously a high degree of dialogue is done regulator to regulator, so we are a supervised entity not merely in the home state where we may have our domicile and headquarters but in all markets where we have operation. In fact, your first point of call would be the nature of the relationship in terms of supervisory co-operation between those two entities, and what it is that you are permitted to do, and where any disputes may arise about what you are doing in those markets. In fact, the TRA is probably much less relevant to a highly regulated and supervised industry like financial services than to some others, in which there are fewer regulator-to-regulator forums that would determine the methods and modes of operation.

Stephen Jones:

I would just add that the concept of dumping in financial services is, therefore, not strictly relevant.

Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

MrQ Bowles, I will ask just a bit more about Standard Chartered and the developing markets in the states and countries where you work. As previously mentioned, your Razia Khan predicts some difficulty in lining up quick deals in Kenya and other places in Africa. What is your view about other countries where your company has long-standing experience, like Vietnam and South Korea? How quickly can those countries respond to these sorts of deals?

Edward Bowles:

Thank you for the question. Standard Chartered has been UK-headquartered for the last 155 years, but 85% of our revenues are from Asia, Africa and the middle east. In respect of most of those countries, there are no FTAs, either with the UK or, indeed, with almost any other markets. I was quite involved in my 10 years at Standard Chartered with the negotiations between the EU and Korea, the EU and Singapore and the EU and Vietnam and, most latterly, with those on TTIP, and on India in between times—that has been a slightly less successful product in negotiating terms. The fact is that we have FTAs with some of those markets and some of them are incredibly advanced. Korea and Singapore are incredibly advanced markets. You are dealing with very sophisticated regulators, politicians and others. They completely understand what the UK would be seeking to achieve in any renegotiation post the roll-over of the current FTAs.

There is certainly scope, I think, in some of those FTAs for tweaking, shall we say, and data offshoring would be one of the issues that I am sure the UK would want to look at. The negotiations take a long time. Korea was seven years. Singapore is not yet in force but we have just had a European Court of Justice ruling in relation to one aspect of it that will enable it to come into force soon, but it has been eight years overall. We can cut and paste them, but then the question is, “What are the incentives on each side—which will probably be asymmetric in terms of interests—for tweaking, and what will be the appetite and the timeframe over which you could do it?” My guess is that you would want to do it expeditiously, but the degree of consultation and engagement with other interested industries, politicians, civic sectors and so on, would inevitably build in a longer time.

For other markets that are rather less developed perhaps than Singapore and Korea, it would take longer, because if there is no existing FTA you are looking at a degree of transparency around their regulatory framework and around the concessions they inevitably will be asked to make, and the question is: “What is the quid pro quo for them?” India is a classic example. You have visas, and immigration is one of their core demands. It has always been one of the core issues that has bedevilled the EU-India FTA negotiations and that will be no less the case, I am sure, with the UK than it is with India.

Photo of Judith Cummins Judith Cummins Shadow Minister (International Trade)

Q Mr Bain, to accompany the release of your report “The Bilateral Trade Deals that Matter to Consumers”, you note the importance of the Government replicating the trade agreements that the EU currently has with third countries to ensure that consumers do not see a rise in prices as a consequence of imposed tariffs and so on. Your report notes that 6% of retailer imports are covered by all EU bilateral agreements. Could you identify the particular countries that your members are concerned about?

William Bain:

Indeed. There is a good quantity of imported fish, from Norway and Iceland, that UK consumers buy. In particular, there is South Africa in terms of products like wine and some citrus, Chile and Peru in terms of soft fruits, and Morocco in terms of fruit, vegetables and some clothing. And there is principally Turkey in terms of clothing. There are many members of the BRC that source clothing in Turkey, which can be given to consumers for sale in this country on good terms. One of the fundamental issues is that, at the moment, that is under a customs union: is there going to be a functioning customs union between the UK and Turkey on 30 March 2019? I think that speaks to some of the process issues that come up in part 1 of the Bill. We know that there will be an interaction between the CRAG process of bringing a concluded treaty before this House, then interacting with the processes that have to be gone through in part 1 of the Bill.

Unless we have things like letters of intent ready to be signed at 11.1 pm on 29 March 2019, and unless we have the EU involved—what seems on the face of it to be bilateral is, in many cases, a trilateral negotiation—we will have a gap. That gap will cause uncertainty for business. Ultimately, it could cause gaps on the shelves and a lack of choice and availability. It is a serious issue for investment and for consumers.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade

Q To follow up, I want to ask you all a question as business people. If someone introduced a break clause in a contract with you or one of your businesses, would you not take the opportunity to renegotiate the deal? Given all that you have said about the importance of clarity, stability, understanding and certainty about the future, which we entirely agree with you on—that is why we need a Bill to do this—do you not think that, if we were seeing changes introduced by these countries because of this opportunity, and some of the changes were substantial, and changed that clarity and certainty, then actually there should be a process of parliamentary scrutiny looking at them?

At the moment, we may not be in control of that process. We know that we would like it to be very simple, but it may not be. Given that, should the scrutiny not be in place for Parliament either to assist procedure or, using some other mechanism, to say, “Yes, this is important, and we need to make sure that we, as Parliament, deal with it in the appropriate democratic way”?

Edward Bowles:

I would say be careful what you wish for, and I do not say that completely comedically. It would very much depend upon the scale of the market that you are interacting with, and the significance of it. The experience that I had of TTIP was one where the lack of initial transparency, of engagement with civic sector societies, and of disclosure of the mandate for the first 15 months of the negotiations very much allowed the debate to be run by outside interests that felt disenfranchised. Effectively, that stymied the political will to take the negotiation further forward even before the new President was elected.

It was absolutely clear that there are lessons to be learned from a negotiation of that scale, ambition and impact for the UK’s economy, to make sure that you have the right level of engagement, transparency, scrutiny and so on in an ongoing manner. For a much smaller market, I dare say that, given the time involved, it may not necessarily warrant a full-scale similar application of scrutiny because, frankly, the relative impact for the UK economy, and therefore for consumers, healthcare and so on, would be much less. Judge each of them on their merits.

Anastassia Beliakova:

To follow up on what Mr Bowles said, the TTIP example certainly shows us how critical it is to have appropriate stakeholder engagement mechanisms. At the moment, the Bill is meant to deal just with continuity of existing agreements that have already had the relevant scrutiny from the European Parliament and have passed through the European Scrutiny Committee here. However, if there are very substantial changes or if we are talking about completely new agreements, provisions certainly need to be made for appropriate scrutiny in Parliament, and for stakeholder engagement for business, civil society and non-governmental organisations. It might make sense for that to have some form of statutory underpinning so that there is input that is not contingent on the political environment, which may change. As has been said, negotiations take a long time, sometimes even up to a decade, and during those negotiations you still need to be able to test both the public views and the impacts. I would urge for these kinds of mechanisms to be put in place where new agreements are implemented.

Photo of Faisal Rashid Faisal Rashid Labour, Warrington South

Q I will put Barry’s point in a different way. You mentioned continuity, which is absolutely fine—the industry needs continuity. You also mentioned that you do not want to see any change, but the Government have already noted that these agreements will be legally distinct and are likely to be different to the corresponding EU trade agreements. Do you believe that it is appropriate for any changes to be waved through using Henry VIII powers? That is one question. For British Chambers of Commerce members, how important is consultation on any elements that might change in these agreements?

Anastassia Beliakova:

Consultation is absolutely critical. If there are changes through these agreements that would alter the benefits that businesses currently see, our members would want to be consulted. At the moment, there is a question as to how the UK will set out on having an independent trade policy. We are conducting a study with the London School of Economics on that topic, which I would be happy to share once it is published.

There is a balance of interests between continuation—ensuring that there is no gap between the current benefits and some new measures that will be implemented—and appropriate scrutiny. That has to be considered on a case-by-case basis when it comes to the existing agreements. For any new negotiations, however, there needs to be a more clearly set out process.

William Bain:

There are two important points to make. First, if we look at the guidelines adopted by the European Council on 15 December and the drafts that are circulating in Brussels for the draft directive to be adopted next Monday, it is very doubtful that the EU will permit the UK to vary these agreements at all. It will basically be small changes that will require the UK to still be subject to its current obligations under these agreements. That is all that the EU will be prepared to accept.

Another important point is that if the mechanism for the transition is that the UK is under the common commercial policy and the EU common external tariff, the UK will be applying all the EU’s external tariffs vis-à-vis third countries. That means that Canada and South Korea will get the advantage of relatively low-tariff trade into the UK market, but unless we get the EU on board to help us with the transitioning process, we will not get the advantages of access to the Canadian and South Korean markets. That is the absolute imperative of why this task has to be completed—so that we can have certainty and continuity for business.

The imminence of another Division tempts me to think that we ought to finish, unless it is a very short question.

Photo of Faisal Rashid Faisal Rashid Labour, Warrington South

Q A very short one, actually. You mention that obviously the European Union might not let us change anything—it will only roll over the existing deal—so why does this Bill need the Henry VIII powers?

Stephen Jones:

It is a rhetorical question, I think.

A rhetorical question that Hansard will have noted. I thank our four witnesses very much for your evidence. You were very good value for money considering you were not paid to be here. Thank you for taking time out—it was most useful for the Committee.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Craig Whittaker.)

Adjourned till Thursday 25 January at half-past Eleven o’clock.

Written evidence reported to the House

TB01 Peter D Blackburn

TB02 ABI

TB03 Dr Kamala Dawar

TB04 Fairtrade Foundation

TB05 Trade Justice Movement

TB06 Global Justice Now

TB07 RSPCA

TB08 Nick Ashton-Hart

TB09 Traidcraft

TB10 British Retail Consortium