Trade Update

Department for Business and Trade written statement – made at on 14 December 2023.

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Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

The Department for Business and Trade continues to make good progress on its ambitious trade negotiations programme. This statement provides Parliament with an update on the UK’s respective trade negotiations with Canada and Switzerland.

Canada Negotiations

The eighth round of UK-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations began on 27 November and concluded on 1 December. This round was held virtually, across all sessions.

Technical discussions were held across [24] policy areas over [60] separate sessions. They included detailed discussions on treaty text.

Both parties built on the momentum from agreeing in principle UK accession to CPTPP in March 2023. The negotiations continue to reflect our shared ambition to secure a progressive deal which strengthens our existing trading relationship, already worth over £24.8 billion in the year to Q3 2022.

Switzerland Negotiations

The third round of negotiations on a UK-Switzerland enhanced Free Trade Agreement (FTA) took place from 27 November to 14 December.

During the round, which was held virtually, UK officials held technical, text-based discussions with their Swiss counterparts in a number of areas, such as procurement, investment, small-medium enterprises, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and animal welfare.

UK negotiators were able to make significant progress and agree draft treaty text across a number of areas. There were good discussions on services and investment, where the UK is working with the Swiss to provide long-term certainty and greater market access for UK-Swiss service suppliers, boosting bilateral trade in this area worth £23.7 billion.

In other chapters, negotiators used this round to greater explore differences to approaches and consider ways to address them, while delivering against negotiation objectives.

Overall, these discussions reflect the UK and Switzerland’s shared ambition to agree a modern, comprehensive agreement, building on the current UK-Swiss trade relationship.

Conversations are set to continue into Round 4, scheduled for spring 2024, where the UK side expects to continue productive discussions.

Summary

The Government remains clear that any deal we sign, including with Canada and Switzerland will be in the best interests of the British people and the UK economy. We will not compromise on our high environmental and labour protections, public health, animal welfare and food standards, and we will maintain our right to regulate in the public interest. We are also clear that during these negotiations, the NHS, and the services it provides are not on the table.

His Majesty’s Government will continue to work closely with Canada and Switzerland to ensure negotiations proceed at pace and takes place on terms that are right for the UK.

The Government will continue to keep Parliament updated as these negotiations progress.