This is the Bill that attempts to carve out a future for Britain as an independent trading nation after we leave the EU. The Government says the Bill will:
“put in place the necessary legal powers to operate a fully functioning trade policy and set the groundwork to becoming an independent global trading nation. This will ensure the UK is ready for the first day after exiting the EU, providing necessary certainty for individuals, businesses, and international trading partners
The UK is currently a member of various trade mechanisms within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by virtue of its EU membership and will have to re-join as an independent member.
The Trade Bill focuses on providing continuity for businesses and consumers. It will:
- create powers so the UK can transition trade agreements that currently exist between the EU and other countries, and which we are party to through our EU membership
- enable the UK to have continued access to £1.3 trillion worth of government contracts and procurement opportunities in 47 countries – by creating the powers needed for the UK to implement the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) as an independent member instead of as part of the EU
- establish a new independent UK body, the Trade Remedies Authority, to defend UK businesses against unfair trade practices
- ensure the UK government has the legal abilities for gathering and sharing trade information, as evidence to support UK businesses against surges in imports and unfair practices
Further tax-related elements of the UK’s trade policy will be legislated in the Treasury’s Customs Bill, as part of the creation of a new UK tariff regime.
This is a Government Bill introduced by the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox MP.
This Bill should come under considerable scrutiny once debating starts in Parliament. Opposition parties and trade unions will want assurances that workers’ rights will not be compromised by the Government doing deals with countries with insufficient employment protection.
The UK cannot sign or negotiate trade deals before its scheduled departure from the EU in March 2019. However, ministers say they can “scope” out future deals with key trade partners, such as the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Despite its publication, the Trade Bill, one of nine pieces of new legislation in the pipeline to prepare the ground for Brexit, will not be debated by MPs until a later date.
How to get involved
Contact your MP, or the Department for International Trade.
If I don’t act, will it go through?
This is a Government Bill, so it is likely it will go through, however we can expect to see a number of amendments tabled for this one.