Examination of Witness

Part of Trade Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:10 pm on 18th June 2020.

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Sam Lowe:

I cannot confess to have looked at the text of every single one, but one of the concerns that had been raised was that there was an issue about whether the tariff rate quotas will have been changed in a specific agreement. When I looked at Chile in this case, the changes that had been made did, to my mind, make sense. For me, the most interesting point about some of the continuity agreements is the approach to rules of origin, which I mentioned earlier. It is the process by which a product qualifies for tariff-free trade under a trade agreement, dependent on the amount of local value added. As the UK has an issue, which is that in many sectors we do not create enough local value added to qualify for free trade agreements under normal rules of origin-type provisions, we have inserted conditions that allow for EU inputs to continue to be accounted for—either indefinitely in the case with Chile, or temporarily with South Korea. That is not necessarily a concern, but it is interesting. It is actually quite a new approach to rules of origin, and the jury is out on whether it is WTO-compliant. I probably lean towards it being compliant, but I have certainly heard counterarguments.