Implementation of international trade agreements

Part of Trade Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade) 11:30 am, 25th June 2020

My hon. Friend is right. Let us bear in mind another point before I come on to Canada. Negotiations are going on not only with the US in relation to the transatlantic partnership with the EU, but we still have not concluded a continuity trade agreement with Andorra, as I understand it. Presumably, one of the Minister’s civil servants is sitting in a room somewhere, worrying about what will be in the UK-Andorra agreement, when they could be properly deployed to trying to sort out whatever the problems are in the UK-Japan agreement. Again, I remind the Committee that we were told that that agreement would be incredibly simple to sort out. I think the Minister said it was just a continuity trade agreement or just a roll-over agreement.

Let us come to the UK-Canada talks—one of the great favourites of the Minister. He had a little fun with us, it would be fair to say, on Tuesday afternoon. Again, however, there does not seem to be any sign of the UK-Canada talks being completed by 31 December. The Minister has been at pains to sell us the great virtues of the EU-Canada deal, and presumably—I would ask him this—there will be similar virtues from a UK-Canada deal, but why is there no obvious sign of any progress towards a signing ceremony for a UK-Canada deal?

In the quote from the Canadian Government regarding why negotiations have not advanced at a more rapid pace, they made it very clear that they were waiting to see how EU-UK talks got on. One got the strong sense that Canadian negotiators are sitting out in the garden smoking a cigar and planning their holidays. They are in no rush whatever to complete a trade deal with the UK, notwithstanding the studiously unspecific comments the Secretary of State gave us at questions last Thursday about how good natured the conversations had been with whoever she had spoken to in the Canadian Government.