Government reveals consultations on post-Brexit trade deals

The government has announced details of four public consultations it intends to carry out ahead of post-Brexit trade negotiations.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said the consultations demonstrated the UK’s intention to seek free trade agreements with the United States, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the UK potentially seeking accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The consultations, which will be released to the public shortly, will cover these prospective new trade agreements signalling the UK’s immediate negotiating priorities as soon as it leaves the EU, in line with the terms of the draft Withdrawal Agreement and in light of the government’s White Paper on the future relationship between the UK and European Union (EU).

Dr Fox said: “For the first time in over 40 years we will be able to determine who we trade with, and on what terms.

“That doesn’t just mean new trade agreements with key partners like the USA, Australia and New Zealand, revitalising our existing trade. It also means putting the UK at the heart of the world’s fastest growing regions with agreements like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I want everyone to have their say, to make sure our future trade policy works for the whole of the UK. Trade affects us all and I urge anyone with an interest to take part in these consultations.

The launch of public consultations followed Dr Fox’s statement to Parliament where he set out the government’s approach to a transparent and inclusive UK trade policy, taking in the views of MPs, devolved governments, businesses, civil society groups and consumers.

If the UK were to join CPTPP, it would be the second largest economy in the group, and CPTPP’s coverage of global GDP would increase to around 17%.

The agreement reduces 95% of tariffs along with other barriers to trade among its 11 members, which include Canada, Japan and Singapore.

The 11 existing members of CPTPP accounted for £82bn of UK trade in 2016, more than the Netherlands, France or China. The economies of existing members are diverse, spanning a region which is a driving force of global economic growth. Many, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore have been growing substantially over the last five years, growth which the IMF projects will continue in the near future.

The US is the UK’s single largest trading partner, accounting for £100bn of UK annual exports and supporting millions of UK jobs.

UK exports to Australia and New Zealand, two of the UK’s closest allies, are growing at 14.8% and 16.8% respectively, a faster pace than the UK’s global average and far outstripping export growth to the EU.