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A Trading Nation

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 30th May 2019.

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Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

There are no simple narrow metrics that will be superior to the existing simple narrow metrics. We need to move beyond that set of ideas.

The harm of chasing after growth will be found in low wages in the hospitality sector and in tax avoidance by the successful, who will unfairly compete with others looking to become more successful.

We can have an alternative approach that is rooted in trade justice principles, such as those created by the trade justice Scotland coalition, which have already been endorsed by the Parliament in a motion passed by 80 votes to 30. Only the Conservatives opposed the idea that trade justice should be at the heart of our approach.

I close with a brief sentence or two on the Trade Bill, which is referenced in my amendment. We need to challenge the notions of the right-wing free-market ideologues in the UK Government, such as Liam Fox and Liz Truss, who would quite happily rip up the social and environmental protections that have been hard won over decades. They need to be challenged over the threat of their free-trade deals, even in devolved policy areas such as environmental protection and the protection of our public services. The democratic scrutiny of the Trade Bill that is required is not there at present, and I hope that the UK Parliament will reject the bill when the time comes.

I move amendment S5M-17436.3, to leave out from the first “recognises” to end and insert:

“notes the positive opportunities for increasing Scotland’s exports as part of a fair and sustainable approach to global trade; recognises that there can be unintended consequences from a narrow focus on increasing GDP as the sole purpose of trade policy, such as poor environmental standards and the use of other unethical practices such as labour exploitation and tax avoidance; believes that these risks need to be proactively addressed by government intervention both domestically and through international cooperation; restates the importance of trade justice principles, as opposed to free trade ideology, underpinning the Scottish Government’s approach to these issues; is concerned that the UK Government’s intended approach to trade policy in the event that the UK leaves the EU is not consistent with trade justice principles, and that the Trade Bill 2017-19 fails to offer adequate opportunities for democratic scrutiny and challenge, including by the devolved legislatures, and resolves to use all means possible to oppose any legislation or trade agreement that restricts the ability of any future Scottish Parliament to act freely in devolved areas.”