Future International Trade Opportunities

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:13 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade) 5:13 pm, 1st May 2019

I shall be brief; I love these one-hour debates, but we are now seeing the limitations of them.

I agree with Craig Tracey in one or two regards: we will most certainly face stiff competition, there will be substantial growth outwith the EU, and there is a range of opportunities. Where I disagree with him is that I do not believe we are ready. In terms of the opportunities that exist—as I will explain later, and as my hon. Friend Angus Brendan MacNeil, who is Chair of the Select Committee, said—I do not believe that they will fill the gap we are about to create.

Along with many Members, including Craig Tracey, I am keen to talk about services in this regard; they have been ignored so far in the debate over customs, tariffs and checks at the border. They are the largest part of our economy and they are a substantial minority of our total exports, but the starting point about services does not fill me with confidence. If one looks at the Swiss deal, the House of Lords report said:

“Most trade in services, which make up 52 per cent of all UK-Swiss trade, is not covered by the deal.”

Lord Boswell went on to say that the deal with Switzerland

“in many aspects differs significantly from the EU-Swiss agreements it replaces.”

Likewise, after the deal with Norway was announced it was confirmed that it did not cover service trade or technical regulations for food, animals or plants. If we cannot replicate in the continuity agreements what we already have with friendly trading partners, it does not augur well for cutting new and innovative deals. I hope the Minister will say a word or two about how he intends to get around that obstacle when we start negotiating in earnest.