Clause 315 - Dumping, subsidisation and safeguarding remedies

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 18 May 2023.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 12:00, 18 May 2023

This grouping can be summarised as further tools to defend UK businesses in international trade disputes or where the rules are not clear or could be interpreted in a variety of ways. The Department for Business and Trade leads on this work, but it is my pleasure to bring these measures into the Finance Bill to help it assist UK businesses in taking full advantage of our Brexit freedoms and ensuring that they continue to flourish in exporting their goods and services around the world.

Clause 315 and schedule 19 deal specifically with existing trade remedies legislation and create new processes for bilateral safeguards. At the moment, we have only two choices when making decisions on trade remedies: we either accept a Trade Remedies Authority recommendation in full or we reject it entirely. That means that we have a limited ability to consider the broader public interest, which the Trade Remedies Authority cannot consider. The changes made in schedule 19 will allow for a greater flow of information between Government and the TRA by requiring the TRA to notify Ministers before initiating new investigations.

The other changes will maintain the TRA’s expert, independent, analytical and investigative role while giving Ministers greater flexibility when making decisions about trade remedies. It will provide Ministers with the power to request that the TRA reassess a recommendation and give them the flexibility to apply a different remedy to that recommended by the TRA and to revoke a measure without a TRA recommendation, provided there is supporting evidence to do so and it is in the public interest. The TRA will have the power to provide alternative options of recommendations to Ministers where justified.

Currently, the TRA can only recommend a measure if it meets the economic interest test, which goes beyond World Trade Organisation requirements. Schedule 19 makes that test advisory, meaning that Ministers can consider the overall economic impact of a measure alongside the broader public interest. It makes technical provisions to allow for the reimbursement of trade remedies duties, the backdating of trade remedies exemptions and the claiming of unpaid duties by HMRC in certain circumstances.

Clause 315 also introduces schedule 20, which concerns bilateral safeguards: another type of trade remedy that may be used when domestic industries are suffering from the adverse effects of increased imports as a result of a free trade agreement. The changes made in the schedule create a new process for the investigation and application of bilateral safeguards, extending the role and responsibility of the TRA and aligning the process to the wider UK trade remedies framework. That will ensure that the UK can adequately protect UK industry and fulfil provisions in our free trade agreements.

Clause 316 introduces customs advance valuation rulings. Those will enable UK traders to apply for legally binding rulings from HMRC on how to calculate how much duty and tax for a specific good is due. That will facilitate trade flows by giving businesses importing to the UK certainty on the amount due before their goods are shipped and will therefore help to support financial planning. We already issue advance rulings in respect of tariff clarification and origin of goods, but we have not provided advance rulings on customs valuations. That is a legacy of such rulings not being provided in the EU, so we are correcting that through the Bill. Indeed, customs authorities worldwide offer them outside the EU. All traders with an economic operator registration and identification number will be able to apply for such a ruling.

Clause 317 updates customs legislation to ensure that decisions by HMRC to require a financial security as a condition of releasing imported goods from customs control are subject to appropriate safeguards. It also brings together all legislation relating to customs guarantees into a single framework. As I say, those are a variety of tools to help Ministers, the TRA and HMRC ensure that we have what we need to protect UK business and to help the flow of goods between the UK and other countries.