Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, total trade between the UK and Russia stood at £15.8 billion in the year to March 2020, an increase of £290 million over the same period last year. UK exports to Russia in this period amounted to £5.9 billion, with Russian imports in the same period totalling £9.9 billion.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, let me make it quite clear that money obtained through criminality or corruption is not welcome in the UK. We have long recognised the corrosive risk of dirty money, including from Russia, being laundered in the UK. We continue to bring the full capabilities of law enforcement to bear against serious criminals, corrupt elites and their assets.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, the Department for International Trade team at our embassy in Moscow is working with a pipeline of over 90 Russian companies that have expressed an interest in the UK. This work is taking place this year and will continue in the following year, notwithstanding external factors.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, trade between Russia and the UK is broadly stable. Our objectives for Russia are driven by our Russia strategy, which holds that trade and investment can be a lever for stabilising relations, increasing prosperity, supporting deeper ties and binding Russia to the rules-based international order. There are no plans at present to attempt to negotiate a free trade agreement with Russia.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, I thought that I had made it clear that there are no trade negotiations going on at the moment with Russia. I resent the assumption that Ministers would in any way be influenced by the matters to which the noble Lord refers.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, the quotation to which the noble Lord refers was a selective quotation picked up by Chinese newspapers from a much longer speech. I hold no candle for any authoritarian regime and I am pleased to confirm that in front of the House.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, UK companies are well aware of what aspects of trade are covered by sanctions. I would be most surprised if any of them do not abide by those rules strictly. We believe that trade that is not covered by sanctions can, as I have said before, be a lever for stabilising relationships.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, we are quite clear that trade does not have to come at the expense of labour, the environment, human rights or sustainable development. We use trade because we want to ensure that economic growth and development and environmental protection can go hand in hand.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, as a previous banker, I abhor illicit finance working its way through the City. It benefits nobody, and no respectable City firm would want to touch it. At every opportunity, I will certainly raise the points that have just been made.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, I am afraid that I do not have the fine print on that with me, so, if I may, I will write to the noble Baroness.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, the UK reported a total trade deficit of £4 billion with Russia in the year to March, compared to a figure of £4.6 billion in the previous year. External factors such as Covid-19 may have an impact on the UK’s international trade in 2021, so at this moment it is impossible to forecast. I very much applaud the fact that the voice of the BBC can be heard clearly and loudly by the...
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, protecting human rights and maintaining environmental standards will always be at the front of our minds when negotiating trade agreements. We have a strong history of safeguarding rights and promoting our values globally. Although our approach to negotiations will vary between partners, it will always allow Her Majesty’s Government to have open discussions on these matters and...
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, the report to which the noble Lord referred actually complimented my department for the way that it has interacted with the IAC. Before we commence negotiations, we make available a full pack of information, including an economic assessment and the results of our consultations. At the end of each negotiation, we have committed to follow the criteria and to make sure that the IAC has...
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate makes an excellent point. The UK is committed to working with international partners and businesses to tackle modern slavery in global supply chains. It is vital that increased trade is not based on the exploitation and abuse of workers.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, we are clear that more trade does not have to come at the expense of our rights and responsibilities. Political freedom and the rule of law are vital underpinnings for both prosperity and stability; we will continue to encourage all states to uphold international rights and obligations during our conduct of trade negotiations.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, the noble Baroness makes a very good point. Not just for ourselves but for the generations coming after us, we all rightly attach huge importance to these matters. We will make sure that they are taken fully into account in our negotiations.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, the noble Lord makes a good point. We work closely with our colleagues in other departments to ensure that those matters are fully taken into account. My belief is that the new changes to the machinery of government will make our voice even more effective in these matters at the country level.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, the series of trade agreements in effect at the moment—to which we were bound by our membership of the EU—are being rolled over into various continuity agreements. I can confirm that all those continuity agreements will contain within them the appropriate provisions in relation to human rights and environmental standards.
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, our manifesto was clear that in all our trade negotiations we will seek to maintain our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. We have recently announced the setting-up of the Trade and Agriculture Commission to ensure that the strongest possible range of views is made available to us in our policymaking. There is always a trade-off between getting on with...
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: My Lords, I am a huge champion of transparency and open dialogue in these matters. I believe that we will come to better decisions with such transparency and I welcome the work that the IAC is doing to bring these matters, in due course, before the House.