Live International Trade Questions House of Commons


Live International Trade Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the international trade secretary Liam Fox and his team of ministers.


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Chequers for the important Cabinet

meeting, Liam Fox answers questions

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on international trade.

Order,

order. Questions to the Secretary of

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State for International Development.

Chris Davies. Question one, Mr

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Speaker.

The Prime Minister's trade

envoys do a great job engaging with

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countries. Last year, trade envoys

helped contribute to export winds of

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over £15.5 billion and based on an

outlay of just under £250,000 for

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the programme over the same period.

Each trade envoy on average

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supported £700 million in exports.

Does he plan to appoint any further

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trade envoys beyond those already

appointed?

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LAUGHTER

That was the least disguised job

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application I have heard in some

time!

There are currently 30 trade

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envoys covering 60 markets,

programmes are reviewed regularly in

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consultation with overseas teams and

any new suggestions are put to the

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Prime Minister, I will let my

honourable friend know as soon as

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possible if any vacancies occur.

Before the trade envoys to anything

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else, will he bring them all

together and allow them to have the

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same briefing from the CPI that many

of the cross-party had from the CPI

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this week because the briefing on

the impact of leaving the EU is a

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disaster for working men and women

and industry and manufacturing in

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this country?

As I often point out,

the working men and women of his

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constituency had a very different

view about their reasons for leaving

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the EU. I make sure our trade envoys

get a much wider range of briefings

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than simply one highly suspect one

in that case.

Thank you. As the

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Prime Minister's trade envoy to

Brazil, I have been immensely

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impressed by the UK companies

already operating in Brazil, but

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frankly, there are not enough of

them. And I urge him to challenge

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business organisations including the

CBI to make sure they put exporting

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at the heart of their work?

There is

only one...

Can I pay tribute to the

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work my honourable friend has done?

We have a growing and increasingly

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improving relationship in terms of

trade with Brazil, but he is right,

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we require to put business exporting

at business heart. We will be

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exporting more than 30% of our GDP

this year for the first year in a

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considerable time.

What

parliamentary scrutiny is there of

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this programme?

There is cross-party

ability to look at the programme, we

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have a trade committee, questions in

this House, I have just reported the

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value we think the programme has.

As

trade envoy to Ethiopia, I had a

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meeting last week about the

Continental free trade area

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agreement, an incredibly important

both for the future of all countries

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in Africa and the UK. Would my right

honourable friend the roles for the

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trade envoy programme to engage with

these free-trade areas covering more

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than one country?

I would hope our

trade envoys along with the posts in

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the various countries would

understand the value increased

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inter-African trade can bring to the

countries concerned and bringing

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opportunities for UK exporters.

Number two. The Government is

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committed to seeking continuity in

trading arrangements to minimise

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disruption to businesses, consumers

and trading partners and we will

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ensure that institutional provisions

of existing agreements are met as

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the UK begins to operate its

independent trade policy.

What

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arrangements does the Government

have in mind in terms of

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parliamentary shared goals around

these new arrangements coming into

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place?

To be absolutely clear, Mr

Speaker, if she is referring to the

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trade Bill presently, we are looking

at the transitioning of existing

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trading arrangements with the EU,

all of those agreements have already

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been through parliamentary scrutiny

in this House. If she is referring

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to future trade agreements, that

will be something we bring back to

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this House in due course.

What of

the new institutions you will need

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to set up if we leave the EU? I

recently travelled to the Canada and

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the US, their impartiality can be

critical in reaching economically

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sound judgments, what assurances can

the Minister fact that the UK

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Government is similar committed to

an independent free from undue

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political interference?

I

congratulate her on the committee on

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the recent visits to the US and

Canada because those are two of the

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examples of trade remedy systems we

have studied, alongside Australia

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and the EU itself. She is right it

is common but not universal to have

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the investigation process

independent of government but still

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a political decision at the end of

the process by ministers accountable

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to Parliament and it is worth

pointing out the opposition parties

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all voted against the creation of

this trade remedy authority in the

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first place.

I do not know if a

bridge counts as an institution, a

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new fixed link between Britain and

France, is it required to continue

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to improve trade after Brexit?

We

have been absolutely clear right the

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way through that the importance of

maintaining our trading relations

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with the EU, which is why we are

seeking trade to be as friction free

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as possible and we are seeking a

comprehensive free-trade agreement

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with the EU.

The EU does not have

comprehensive free-trade agreements

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with some of the world's major

economies, does the Minister believe

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the UK is likely to strike such

deals quicker than the EU?

We remain

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supportive of the EU's negotiations

with some of these trade partners,

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whilst we are still members of the

EU, because we are strong believers

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in free trade, we also have set up

14 trade working groups with many of

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the leading economies including

China, India, and the US, and we

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look forward to making further

progress with those arrangements in

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due course.

Thank you. Our current

trading relationships with partners

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ranging from Switzerland to Mexico

and many others are currently

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overseen by joint committees of the

EU and other states. Can the

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Minister told the House how many of

these committees will be replaced by

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UK equivalents after Brexit, what

progress his department has made in

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establishing these institutions,

where the staffing expertise will be

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sourced from and at what cost to the

taxpayer?

I think I should tell her

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first of all the UK has played a

leading role in establishing these

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European union arrangements in the

first place, with countries like

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Mexico, Switzerland. In terms of

where we go from here, the priority

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is to make sure there is continuity

in trading relations with all of the

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40 plus trading agreements we have

with the 70 plus countries making

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sure those become UK arrangements as

we leave the EU, the precise format

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of the further discussions we will

have with those partners will be

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something for future arrangements.

Question three, Mr Speaker.

As we

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leave the EU, the government intends

as far as possible to maintain the

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effects of existing EU free trade

agreements and other EU preferential

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arrangements including agreements

with Switzerland, Norway and Turkey.

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Thank you. I will pursue the

question is not answered by the

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Minister, the questions from my

honourable friend, in 2016, the

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Secretary of State of the

international trade committee he

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would prioritise securing an

agreement with Switzerland, the

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current relationship between the EU

one Switzerland is overseen by some

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20 joint committees, very

specifically, how many of these

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committees will be replaced with UK

Swiss committees and how far along

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the process of setting these

institutions up is his department?

I

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actually met with Swiss ministers in

Geneva recently and we discussed

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what the future arrangement would

be, how we would oversee the

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arrangement is dependent on the

arrangement itself which is

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currently under negotiation.

We do

not need trade agreements to trade,

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do we?

No.

Thank you. The Secretary

of State told us he plans to

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replicate all of the provisions of

the trade agreements the UK has as a

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member of the EU with Norway,

Switzerland and Turkey, these

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provisions include free movement of

people in the cases of Norway and

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Switzerland under customs union with

Turkey. Can he confirm, is at the

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Government's policy to replicate all

of these provisions?

In the

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transitional arrangements we have,

we made it very clear that key

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element is continuity so until we

create bespoke arrangements with

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these countries, we will continue

the provisions that exist today.

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Question number four, Mr Speaker.

We

have the opportunity to enhance our

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global trading relationships

including with those countries with

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whom we share bombs of history and

friendship, my right honourable

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friend travelled to Australia and

New Zealand in November to promote

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free trade and deepen the trading

relationships -- the bonds of

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history and friendship. We have an

opportunity to continue this work

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with all member states.

Has he

considered how UK agriculture will

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compete with the Commonwealth

cousins when we agreed a free-trade

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deal after leaving the customs

union?

I praise my honourable friend

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for his distinguished business

career in this sector, before coming

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to this House, something which

brings real expertise. He will know

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we have established trade working

groups with both Australia and New

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Zealand to explore possibilities in

trade and investment. These will

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include agriculture but it is too

early to be sure how they will be

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covered in these and other future

trading arrangements. I would just

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add the New Zealanders for example

are interested in this, the High

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Commission recently wrote to the

international trade select committee

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saying, given the compliments of the

two economies, they want to be doing

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something with us, and we very much

agree.

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The Minister will be aware clearly

Wales has a large industry, one of

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the price of the United Kingdom,

could be Prime Minister give his

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assurances with negotiations with

the New Zealand that he doesn't risk

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a Welsh farm industries?

We are all

keenly aware of the importance of a

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British agriculture in all parts of

the United Kingdom, making sure that

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we have not only the necessary

protections in place on things like

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animal welfare standards, but also

promoting their opportunity to

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export to those excellent British

goods. Food and rig is one of our

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biggest growing exports and we want

people to take advantage of those

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opportunities across the UK -- food

and drink.

What importance will the

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Minister attached to deepening and

broadening our trade relationships

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with four example India, with a

widening middle-class amongst its

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population of 1.25 alien.

Indeed,

the Prime Minister's first bilateral

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trade visit in November 2016 was

actually to India accompanied by the

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secretary of state and myself -- 1.2

private pavilion -- 1.2

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-- 1.25 billion. The Indian market

is difficult to crack the many

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exporters, we have advantages in

doing business there and I think the

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recent talks are led by the

secretary of State last month is

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putting as in the right direction.

By leaving the customs union and

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establishing a new ambitious

arrangement with the EU, we will

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establish a frictionless trade as

possible and the freedom to forge

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partnerships around the world.

The

Norwegians have a saying, nothing is

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in as much of a hurry as a dead fish

on the back of a lorry. Like

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Norway... Takes a minute! Like

Norway, Scotland exports most of the

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fish it catches to the European

Union and that's why Norway has

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chosen to be a member of the single

market, to avoid nontariff barriers

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so fish can cross borders quickly.

What assessment has he made of the

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impact of leaving the single market

on the Scottish fishing industry?

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First thing to point out, the

majority of Scotland's exports go to

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the rest of the UK, not the EU. And

before the Right Honourable Lady

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talks about the value of the single

market, it's worth pointing out that

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despite our membership of the single

market, we've had a growing trade

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deficit with the European Union at

the same time has a surplus with the

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rest of the world. We want to

establish conditions where all our

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exports have access to the rest of

the world, and as experts point out,

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90% of global growth in the next 50

years will be outside Europe.

What

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is the preferred method of the

Secretary of State of insuring

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frictionless trade between the

Republic and North of Ireland?

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Through widespread and Liberal

agreement in trade with the European

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Union as set out in the government

memorandum in December. Mr Speaker,

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the great festival will be held in

Hong Kong in 2018 with over 70

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confirmed speakers, showcasing the

best of British innovation and the

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potential of the UK economy and the

strength of our world-class service

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sector.

Britain is becoming a world

litter in artificial intelligence,

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big data and the fourth Industrial

Revolution technologies that will

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power export growth, can he ensure

these will be widely promoted at the

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first festival?

Yes, for example an

AI based infrastructure technology

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which has been used for projects in

this country as Crossrail will be

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showcased but it will be an

opportunity for us to show the best

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of British innovation in general.

Thank you, we are making great

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progress in supporting UK businesses

to invest overseas as this will have

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a substantial positive affect on the

UK economy. The DIC has addressed a

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market failures to support British

businesses.

What update is the

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Minister able to provide the House

on pilots, and could he explain the

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opportunities overseas direct

assessment could present?

My

0:16:390:16:47

department's ODI support pilots have

successfully demonstrated the impact

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of the government can have in

supporting UK businesses to overcome

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barriers to market access and to

expand overseas. By harnessing the

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private sector wherever possible and

focusing government intervention is

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only on market failures, my

department has successfully

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supported overseas developers for a

range of UK businesses in six global

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markets.

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Mr Speaker, in 2016, the UK had a

trade deficit with the EU and a

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trade surplus with non-EU countries,

up from 2015. Latest figures show in

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2017, the UK trade deficit in goods

and services and narrowed.

Balance

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of trade figures were once regarded

as pivotal, thought to win or lose

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elections even. Given we are now

going to escape the constraining

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clutches of the European Union, will

my Right Honourable friend it

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investigate in old friends,

rejuvenate our relationships in the

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realm with allies like Australia and

New Zealand? What steps as he taken

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to ensure preferential arrangements

with such old allies?

I think he

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asks a good question. Can I put on

record my thanks to him for leading

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very as governments trade

delegations recently, including two

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Columbia, I know he takes an

interest in the subject -- including

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two Columbia. We have set up groups

with Canada, the United States and

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New Zealand, we also voted for the

EU free-trade agreement with Canada.

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The Secretary of State has been in

all four of these markets are

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leading efforts to break down trade

barriers and seek new trade

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agreements.

Quite what Colombia made

of the Right Honourable Gentleman is

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not recorded!

In Bristol, the music

industry is important and trade is a

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service, what steps is the

government is taking to ensure the

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creative industries are supported as

we leave the EU?

She's quite right

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to point out the importance of

services to our trade. They

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represent overall 80% of our

economy, 79% of jobs. The Secretary

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of State and the whole team are

working closely with the DC MS to

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make sure we continue to grow

exports from our creative sector to

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make sure that investment from

abroad continues to come into our

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creative sector. We visit quite

often places like text city, Tech UK

0:19:340:19:41

and make sure we work closely with

them to ensure we continue to

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flourishing future for our creative

industries.

Last week as co-chair of

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the all-party Kosovo group, I

visited a British company who have a

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£20 million investment there. What

opportunities does the Minister for

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CF or widening our trade in both

goods and services with both Kosovo

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and neighbouring Balkan countries?

It's a good opportunity and a part

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of the world I know well. The

company he is referring to is called

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Fox and marble which is a highly

appropriate name for this question.

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They find top-quality marble in

Kosovo for export. In terms of the

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wider region, we work closely with

the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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promoting opportunities throughout

the region.

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My department has a responsibility

for export promotion, forward and

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outward direct trade policy. I'm

delighted to inform the House my

0:20:460:20:51

department has appointed the first

three of our network of trade

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commissioners. They will service

trade commissions were China, North

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America and South Asia respectively.

They will develop and deliver

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strategies to make sure we can take

full advantage of leaving the

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European Union, the single market

and the customs union.

I thank him

0:21:080:21:12

for that answer. What evidence is

the Minister seeing for growth in UK

0:21:120:21:16

manufacturing exports to the wider

world? Having returned from Pakistan

0:21:160:21:20

as a trade envoy with a leading

British companies, will the

0:21:200:21:24

Secretary of State join me in paying

tribute to our trade experts in

0:21:240:21:30

Pakistan?

Indeed I do to all of

those. We're seeing a big rise in

0:21:300:21:40

our manufacturing order books, not

least on the back of our strong

0:21:400:21:43

export performance. We have seen the

biggest growth in manufacturing in

0:21:430:21:49

terms of monthly consistent numbers

for 30 years and the figures

0:21:490:21:53

produced by the ONS this morning

suggest exports and now represents

0:21:530:21:59

33% of our GDP exports, the

second-highest figure on record.

0:21:590:22:04

Given the government front bench's

uncharacteristic failure to welcome

0:22:040:22:09

my Right Honourable friend the

member for Bradford South to the

0:22:090:22:15

bench, I know you would wish me to

do so. Is the secretary of State to

0:22:150:22:19

whether Food Standards Agency

recently did Saint large quantities

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of outdated meet. -- recently

detained. It is believed to come

0:22:230:22:31

from Ireland and south America,

giving it is the parent company for

0:22:310:22:36

town of you feuds, one of its

directors Matthew Plunkett was also

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a director of a company implication

it in the Irish horse meat scandal

0:22:410:22:45

of 2013 and found guilty of meat

labelling fraud, will the Secretary

0:22:450:22:50

of State and liaise urgently with

ministers in the Republic, with the

0:22:500:22:53

FSA here and the Irish food safety

authority to ensure the supply chain

0:22:530:22:59

for this illegal meat is identified,

that our sanitary and fight to

0:22:590:23:04

sanitary regulations are properly

enforced and those behind illegal

0:23:040:23:07

trade...?

If the meat was previously

hot, it would certainly be freezing

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cold by now!

I wasn't aware of that

particular allegation, clearly it's

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a cross government issued. I'll

ensure other ministers are aware of

0:23:170:23:22

it.

There is immense potential for

growth in bilateral trade and

0:23:220:23:28

investment between the UK and Israel

after we leave the EU. Does the

0:23:280:23:33

Minister share my home with yet

greater levels of trade with the

0:23:330:23:37

start of the nation and will he

update on progress made by the UK

0:23:370:23:40

Israel working group?

Thank you,

Britain's relationship with Israel

0:23:400:23:46

is stronger than ever with record

levels of bilateral cooperation and

0:23:460:23:50

trade investment science and

technology. As he says, the UK

0:23:500:23:55

Israel trade working group is making

good progress in ensuring continuity

0:23:550:23:59

in our trading relationships as we

leave the EU.

Bearing in mind the

0:23:590:24:05

Israel Apartheid week that is

upcoming in universities in which a

0:24:050:24:09

boycott of Israel is a big

component, can the Minister outline

0:24:090:24:13

how he intends to enhance trade with

Israel for our benefit and offset

0:24:130:24:17

this destructive campaign by the

anti-Israel movement?

We strongly

0:24:170:24:23

welcome our ties with Israel as I

know the Gentleman does. As has been

0:24:230:24:29

said, that Hartmann for

international trade has established

0:24:290:24:32

a joint trade working group and we

continue to liaise closely with the

0:24:320:24:37

Israeli government to strengthen

trade and investment ties and others

0:24:370:24:40

between this country and them.

Next

Friday I'll be attending the

0:24:400:24:48

business event which showcases the

0:24:480:24:50

brilliant small and medium-sized

enterprises in the North Devon. Will

0:24:500:24:53

he say what his department is doing

to attract international investments

0:24:530:24:57

to these businesses which formed the

bedrock of the south-west economy?

0:24:570:25:03

Thank you, we work in collaboration

with the heart of the south-west of

0:25:030:25:06

local enterprise partnership to

attract foreign direct investment

0:25:060:25:10

into Devon. More widely, the

department works with local

0:25:100:25:15

enterprise partnerships and local

authorities across the whole

0:25:150:25:19

south-west to promote inward

investment opportunities to

0:25:190:25:20

foreign-owned countries. Di I too

recorded 101 inward investment

0:25:200:25:25

projects in the south-west last year

creating 3402 new jobs.

A properly

0:25:250:25:37

managed to transition to period was

always top of the agenda for

0:25:370:25:42

businesses across Scotland,

particularly for thriving food and

0:25:420:25:44

drink sector. Does he agree with his

own government that a sensible

0:25:440:25:49

transition period is required or is

he sticking to his cliff edge

0:25:490:25:52

position which will have a

devastating impact for businesses

0:25:520:25:55

across Scotland and the UK?

I

believe that as we do across

0:25:550:26:03

government, that the simplest way to

get to the position that we will be

0:26:030:26:07

able to enjoy of leaving the single

market and Customs union is a

0:26:070:26:11

transition period which is carefully

planned and gives predictability to

0:26:110:26:14

business.

Single sentencing choir is

now required.

0:26:140:26:23

Last week I visited the US and I was

very encouraged by the positive

0:26:230:26:29

response from stakeholders, what

assessment have you made about the

0:26:290:26:31

potential of the UK has in respect

of the future trade deal with the

0:26:310:26:36

US?

We have four working groups with

the US at the present time and the

0:26:360:26:41

last one we announced the UK US

dialogue in my humble friend will be

0:26:410:26:46

pleased to know the first dialogue

will take place next month on a

0:26:460:26:49

semi-plu-mac involving 100

businesses, part of a very

0:26:490:26:53

constructive business -- SMEs.

Can I

tempt the Secretary of State to come

0:26:530:27:02

and visit a whiskey distillery and

will play do everything to ensure

0:27:020:27:09

future prosperity in my

constituency?

I have several

0:27:090:27:13

invitations to visit distilleries

and I will take a close personal

0:27:130:27:17

interest in this particular sector.

Further to the answer some moments

0:27:170:27:22

ago, does my right honourable friend

agree with me the prospects for

0:27:220:27:27

future trade with our close friend

and economic partner, India, remain

0:27:270:27:32

very bright?

Yes, he is quite right,

I mentioned that India trade audit,

0:27:320:27:37

just published, and the Secretary of

State met with his Indian

0:27:370:27:43

counterpart in January in our

meetings agreeing bilateral work

0:27:430:27:48

will now explore addressing barriers

in food and drink, life sciences, IT

0:27:480:27:54

and services.

The UK remains a major

transit hub for illegal wildlife

0:27:540:28:03

traffickers and reliant on the

board. Prevent the trade, can the

0:28:030:28:06

Minister tell colleagues at the Home

Office to ditch their plan to staff

0:28:060:28:16

it with volunteers?

This government

has taken enormous efforts on

0:28:160:28:21

stopping wildlife trafficking, my

right honourable friend for foreign

0:28:210:28:25

and Commonwealth affairs made this a

major part of his visit to Southeast

0:28:250:28:29

Asia last week, particularly with

reference to an animal which is most

0:28:290:28:33

trafficked across the world at the

moment, pangolin, and this

0:28:330:28:39

government is leading global efforts

in combating this horrendous trade.

0:28:390:28:45

Does my right honourable friend

agreed free-trade helps consumers by

0:28:450:28:51

lowering prices and it has been one

of the biggest contributors to

0:28:510:28:54

combating global poverty over the

last 100 years? Will he embrace the

0:28:540:29:00

opportunities created by Brexit to

do free-trade deals helping

0:29:000:29:03

consumers and British businesses?

At

the WTO this week, I was making the

0:29:030:29:10

case again for free trade and the UK

is a global champion of free trade,

0:29:100:29:14

we tend to discuss trade very often

in terms of producers, but we must

0:29:140:29:19

also remember free-trade has an

enormous benefit to consumers in

0:29:190:29:23

terms of lowering prices, improving

choice and increasing quality. It

0:29:230:29:26

has been the route by which we have

taken more than 1 billion people on

0:29:260:29:30

this planet out of abject property

in the last generation, something we

0:29:300:29:35

should celebrate.

No prosecutions

leading to convictions with no

0:29:350:29:39

register for arms brokers like the

USA, Canada, Germany and France,

0:29:390:29:43

with the Government selling weapons

answered buy equipment to human

0:29:430:29:49

rights abusers, are the Government

not implementing the rules?

They

0:29:490:29:57

rather revealing questions when they

try to -- they rather ruin questions

0:29:570:30:04

when they tried to get too much in.

It is better when shorter and more

0:30:040:30:10

pithy. Such an obvious point, the

honourable gentleman must be

0:30:100:30:15

extraordinary clever not to be able

to grasp it.

All export licence

0:30:150:30:20

applications are considered on a

case-by-case basis against the

0:30:200:30:25

Consolidated EU and national export

arms criteria. I would be happy to

0:30:250:30:31

meet with the honourable gentleman

to discuss these issues further.

How

0:30:310:30:35

can the many excellent businesses in

the Black Country benefit when we

0:30:350:30:40

leave the customs union?

My

honourable friend is a fine and

0:30:400:30:46

upstanding voice for the Black

Country. He will know manufacturing

0:30:460:30:52

experienced a 2.0% growth rate over

the last year leaving the customs

0:30:520:30:56

union provides an opportunity to

0:30:560:30:58

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