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

My hon. Friend makes his point himself; I will not spend time agreeing with him, although I do entirely.

The Swiss and Norway continuity agreements demonstrate what happens when negotiations take place from a position of weakness. In the EU-US negotiations we have seen the US adamant that agriculture would be included in any deal, but the EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström told the US trade representative that they could not negotiate on agriculture. She has been quoted as saying:

“We have made very clear agriculture will not be included.”

She can do that from a position of strength. My great concern is that the UK is negotiating from a position of profound weakness, as evidenced by the failure of the continuity agreements, meaning that we may well face all the downsides of the US and others seeking an agricultural deal that will weaken food, hygiene and environmental standards. How does the Minister respond to that? It would be useful to know.

I finish by making a key point that was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar when he talked about export figures. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research suggested that any Brexit would see a loss of around 20% in total UK trade. Cutting a deal with the main English-speaking economies would see an increase of 2% to 3% and cutting a deal with the BRIC countries would see an increase of 2% to 3%. If we lose 20% of our total trade, the best we can do with the biggest economies in the world is to claw back maybe 5% or 6%. It is a pretty bad starting point. How does the Minister intend to ensure that there is a real focus on filling the gap and making sure that no part of the country, no part of the economy and no workforce is sacrificed on the altar of Brexit ideology?