As Parliament returns from the Christmas recess, the House of Commons has started the New Year by debating two important Bills which will help form the UK’s trade policy after we have left the European Union.
The two pieces of legislation, the Trade Bill and Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill, are the first, important steps towards establishing a new independent trade policy for the UK.
The Trade Bill will help provide continuity for businesses, workers and consumers across the whole of the UK as we leave the EU. It puts in place a number of measures to help ensure a smooth transition.
The Bill will prevent disruption to UK business and consumers by creating powers to make regulations, if needed, to assist in implementing trade agreements that we transition with existing third country trade partners. This will help to ensure continuity of existing trade and investment arrangements across the UK, providing continuity to workers, consumers, businesses and international trading partners.
The new law will also maintain UK businesses’ access to public contract opportunities worth approximately £1.3 trillion per year, and ensure that we get the best deal for the taxpayer, by making provision for the UK to implement obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement as an independent member.
A new independent body, the Trade Remedies Authority, will be created to oversee a UK trade remedies framework. This will enable the UK to secure the benefits of global free trade while providing a safety net for domestic industries against unfair and injurious trading practices, such as dumping or subsidies, or unforeseen and injurious surges in imports.
Other technical provisions will be put in place to enable HMRC to collect and share essential data on trade. This will enable bodies such as the International Trade department and the new Trade Remedies Authority to perform essential trade functions – such as providing evidence on trade disputes assessed by WTO panels – as well as informing the development of new policy.
These Bills are an important step towards putting in place our new international trade policy after we leave the EU, and ensure a smooth transition for businesses, workers and consumers to help us all succeed in a post-Brexit world.