Trade Bill: An Introduction

The Trade Bill seeks to allow the UK to continue its' existing trade policy after Brexit. The Bill therefore contains provisions to ease the transition of current EU trade agreements with other countries (that the UK is party to as a Member State) to transpose these into UK agreements with those same countries. You can read more about the Bill at the link here.

I and many colleagues on all sides of the House (my own included) remain concerned principally regarding two areas. How we can secure tariff-free trade such that our economy does not suffer and how do we avoid a physical customs border in Ireland?

On 17 January 2017, the Prime Minister made a critical speech in Lancaster House which set out the Government's objectives for the EU negotiations. In the extract copied below from the speech, the Prime Minister stated herself that she wants to secure tariff-free trade and a customs union agreement with Europe.

“Now, I want Britain to be able to negotiate its own trade agreements. But I also want tariff-free trade with Europe and cross-border trade there to be as frictionless as possible.

"That means I do not want Britain to be part of the Common Commercial Policy and I do not want us to be bound by the Common External Tariff. These are the elements of the Customs Union that prevent us from striking our own comprehensive trade agreements with other countries. But I do want us to have a customs agreement with the EU.

"Whether that means we must reach a completely new customs agreement, become an associate member of the Customs Union in some way, or remain a signatory to some elements of it, I hold no preconceived position. I have an open mind on how we do it. It is not the means that matter, but the ends.

"And those ends are clear: I want to remove as many barriers to trade as possible. And I want Britain to be free to establish our own tariff schedules at the World Trade Organisation, meaning we can reach new trade agreements not just with the European Union but with old friends and new allies from outside Europe too.”

It is for these reasons that I have added my name in support of Anna Soubry's New Clause 5 which seeks to do just that. This clause would seek to require the appropriate authority considers it an objective to take the necessary steps required to implement an international trade agreement which enables the UK to participate in "a" customs union with the EU. You can read the full amendment text below, and see the latest amendment paper by following the link here and clicking on the amendment paper shown on the webpage.

Anna Soubry - NC5

 To move the following Clause—

“Implementation of a customs union with the EU

(1) It shall be the objective of an appropriate authority to take all necessary steps to implement an international trade agreement which enables the UK to participate after exit day in a customs union with the EU.

(2) Exit day shall have the meaning set out in section 14 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.”