Future trade deals in a post Brexit UK must be conducted with transparency and consult representatives of all the nations in the UK. That is the conclusion of a UK Parliament report published by the International Trade Committee.
Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, chair of the committee said:
“The UK is set to begin negotiating its own trade agreements for the first time in 40 years. These agreements have the potential to affect every part of every UK citizen’s life – from the quality of the food we eat to the money in our pocket. We have seen what happens when the public and parliament are deliberately kept in the dark over trade negotiations. With so much to gain or lose, everyone has the right be heard.
“Current Government plans for the transparency and scrutiny of future trade negotiations are characteristically vague and attempt to dress poor planning up as pragmatism. Our report makes an unequivocal argument for transparency over secrecy, consultation over concealment, and parliamentary debate over simple rubber-stamping.
“The Government should allow Parliament, devolved government, business and civil society to contribute positively to the development of a negotiating mandate. It should guarantee Parliament a vote on the ratification of trade deals and give our Committee the tools we need to oversee and scrutinise negotiations as they progress. It should ensure that devolved government has a statutory and meaningful role and expand its means of consultation with business and civil society.
“If the proper processes and protections are not put in place from the outset, the Government may fail to realise the UK-wide post-Brexit benefits it has gone to such lengths to promote.”
The Report states that the 4 Principles that the UK Government should adopt are:
- Conducting trade negotiations is the prerogative of the executive, but there must be a meaningful role for Parliament in the trade policy process.
- Trade policy must be open and inclusive, and maximise benefit throughout the UK.
- Government must operate from a presumption of transparency.
- Consultative processes must be formalised.
The report wishes to see a UK International Trade Committee formed between the governments and consultation with the devolved administrations/local governments to go into the details of any negotiations on trade.
“It is crucial that the Government take account of the views of each nation and region within the United Kingdom in formulating an independent trade policy. Current structures are not sufficiently robust to provide for structured engagement and extensive consultation.”
You can read the full report here: UK Trade Policy Transparency and Scrutiny