Trade Agreements

Department for International Trade written question – answered on 27th February 2019.

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Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many staff in his Department were directly employed on negotiations in relation to (a) new trade agreements with (i) Australia, (ii) New Zealand and (iii) the US and (b) the UK's potential accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership; and how many of those staff have since been seconded to work on concluding trade agreements with those third countries with which the EU has a signed agreement.

Photo of George Hollingbery George Hollingbery Minister of State (International Trade)

DIT has been conducting preparatory work in relation to potential new trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand, the US and potential accession to CPTPP. Until the UK leaves the EU no formal negotiations can be undertaken with Australia, New Zealand, the US and the CPTPP nor have they been. That is a function that will occur after the UK has left the EU.

There is no one size fits all format or size for a negotiation team. Decisions on staff and resources are, therefore, still to be finalised. It should also be noted that the conduct of any negotiation will involve both front line staff and broader input covering a wider range of staff both from DIT and from other government departments.

Over recent months DIT has increased its efforts to deliver Trade Agreement Continuity with those third countries with which the EU has a signed agreement as part of our preparations for a potential No Deal scenario. Those efforts draw principally on the resources of the Trade Policy Group.

Since the Department was created its Trade Policy Group (TPG) has grown to approximately 480 people at the end of January 2019, bringing together trade policy, country specialists and experts on trade policy issues. A number of DIT staff in offshore posts are also undertaking work on market access trade policy issues.

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