TJM response to announcement of new Trade Bill

Posted on May 10, 2022
Houses Of Parliament

The Queen’s Speech today, 10 May 2022, included a new Trade Bill covering agreements with Australia and New Zealand.

Ruth Bergan, Director of the Trade Justice Movement said:

“We caution against the promised guarantees of the trade deals benefitting all parts of the UK.

“The Government’s own projections show the benefits of these trade deals are not evenly distributed across the UK. In particular, devolved nations, with a combined GDP of around £190 billion, will see benefits of just £200 million.

“What’s more, the projections state that there is significant uncertainty surrounding the potential gains: they may not ever materialise. It is wrong to imply that these deals are going to make a meaningful difference to people facing such a huge cost of living crisis.

“Procurement rules can be key to delivering on UK commitments. Large numbers of jobs rely on procurement by local governments and the NHS for example. It can also be used to ensure we meet commitments on things like climate change. By further opening up procurement to international competition, the UK's ability to shape industrial policy in such key policy areas could be badly compromised.

“The benefits from the deal with New Zealand are, in the most optimistic scenario, a 0.03% increase in UK GDP. The biggest benefit to consumers is likely to be cheaper kiwi wine. Trade agreements, particularly where the benefits are so tiny, must not be allowed to tie our hands on big issues like climate change at a time when action is so important.

“We also regret the omission of climate change in the Trade Bill. The Australia and New Zealand trade deal do not reflect the UK’s ambitious climate commitments, including to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. These commitments are not properly feeding through to its trade strategy and the UK is signing deals that will eventually lead to increased emissions. This is setting a dangerous precedent.

“Instead of focusing on deals with minimal benefits, the UK should be focusing on producing a strategy for trade and investment that aligns it with critical goals such as tackling climate change and ensuring an equitable response to pandemics like Covid.”


For more information please contact Catherine Callens, Senior Communications Adviser on catherine[at]tjm.org.uk


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