Future International Trade Opportunities

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:18 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade) 5:18 pm, 1st May 2019

In congratulating Craig Tracey on securing the debate, I call on the Minister to deal with the point made by Stewart Hosie. What the hon. Member for North Warwickshire failed to address was not so much the need for seven or eight new planets, but the gaping black hole that cannot be filled by the figures he gave for how we will replace trade with the EU.

It is fitting that we are debating the future of international trade at the same time as Members in the main Chamber are discussing Labour’s call to declare a climate emergency. The opportunities in the low-carbon economy for trade in goods and services as part of—as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said—the global economic benefits of $26 trillion, need to be at the heart of our industrial and trade strategy. However, before concentrating on the export potential of renewable technology, I will spend a few minutes on other topics.

Trade in services is vital to our economy. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire mentioned the importance of insurance, and my hon. Friend Gareth Thomas mentioned the other service parts of the economy that are crucial to his constituents. Trade in services represents the majority of the economy, driving jobs and prosperity to Britain, and it will be significantly impacted by the nature of our future relationship with the EU. Having a strong relationship with the internal market of the EU is therefore essential.

Turning to the Government’s failure to make progress in negotiating replacements for the 43 agreements with 70 or so countries to which we are party through our membership of the EU, at the last count we were told that four deals were off track, 19 were significantly off track, four were impossible to complete and two were not even being negotiated. Perhaps the Minister can update us. It is no good the Government’s saying we should have voted for the Prime Minister’s deal. The fact that the details of the future relationship with the EU will be negotiated only after we have left means that what is on offer is blind Brexit. That is why the Opposition cannot support the current deal.