Examination of Witness

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

Alert me about debates like this

Sam Lowe:

Canada is a long story, in that it links back to the previous iteration of the Government’s no-deal tariff schedule and its publication. When we put forward a tariff schedule that was very liberal and offered a lot of access to everyone, the Canadians looked at it and said, “We do not want to roll over any more, because you are giving the whole world for free what we had to pay for via our trade agreement”—remember, they also had to open up their market in that context. I believe that the more recent update to the new global tariffs has changed that calculation slightly on the Canadian side, and will lead to a renegotiation.

The reason that the Japanese were not able to roll it over from a domestic point of view was that from their perspective, they had liberalised their agriculture sector to a great extent over previous years—through their agreement with the EU, through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and also through their more recent agreement with the US. If they were to roll the agreement over to the UK, they would be giving extra agriculture access to their market on top of all that, but for free. That was just not politically doable within the Japanese context, so it led to the need for this renegotiation.

Turning to the contentious issues, I suppose that with Canada we could return to some of the TTIP issues around investment all over again. That is also the case with Japan. I think both those deals are probably doable by the end of the year under certain circumstances, but you will notice that the UK has had difficulty replicating agreements with the bigger countries. It has not been so difficult with some of the smaller countries, but if you think about the ones that have not been done yet—Japan and Canada, but also Mexico and Ukraine—many of those countries want to be certain of what the future UK-EU relationship looks like, and what concessions the UK offers the EU, before finalising anything with the UK.