Government must listen to parliament on Australia deal

Posted on June 29, 2022
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The International Trade Committee's report "UK trade negotiations: Scrutiny of Agreement with Australia" is a damning indictment of the Government’s scrutiny processes and attitude to the key trade body in the Commons.

Welcoming the report, Ruth Bergan, Director of the Trade Justice Movement, said:

“The Trade Justice Movement has long called for proper processes for public and parliamentary engagement in the negotiation of trade deals. The International Trade Committee has called out the Government, in the strongest possible terms, for the botched process they have undertaken.

“We have seen public consultations barely worthy of the name, stakeholder groups that have almost no impact on negotiations and the exclusion of certain groups with no explanation. The most important trade body in parliament has fared no better. As this report sets out, the Department for International Trade has not even deigned to respond to committee letters requesting additional time - just 15 days - to consider the deal. Nor has it responded in a timely way to requests for a meeting with the Trade Secretary.

“The trade deal with Australia will have significant implications for all of our daily lives, including impacts on food standards, animal welfare, climate and the environment. But this deal will also set a precedent for future deals with countries like India, the Gulf states and Brazil. That’s why it is so important that we get the process right this time.

“The UK-Australia scrutiny has been a crucial test of the post-Brexit role of Parliament, and it has to date proven unfit for purpose. Anne Marie Trevelyan must now grant the additional 21 days requested by Parliament’s trade committee, as well as time for a debate and vote on the deal.

“Longer term, the Government must learn from this experience and significantly improve its processes for scrutiny, we have on several occasions made recommendations, including a guaranteed vote for MPs on trade deals that cannot just be ignored by the Government.”


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