Examination of Witness

Part of Trade Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:51 am on 16th June 2020.

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Roy Freeland:

I am afraid I am not an expert in reading parliamentary legislation, but I did not get the impression that the Bill is quite as explicit as I would like it to be. Certainly, the Trade Remedies Authority would be the right route to deal with this, possibly with a little help from a statutory instrument under the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018. However, it is a very important issue.

The EU described the Buy America provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act as one of the most fundamental obstacles to accessing to US procurement. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership fell over, and this Buy America provision was one of the issues. I am not advocating that we should have a—how can I put it?—Don’t Buy America Act, as much as I would like to see that. That might be rather provocative. However, we should have provisions to take action, and if a few US steel makers, for example, found that they could not supply High Speed 2 with rail track because of such rules in the Act, I think some reverse pressure might be put on the Americans to reconsider their position.