HomeInsightsDepartment for International Trade publishes summaries of responses to its consultation on potential future trade agreements with the US, Australia and New Zealand

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On 18 July 2019, the Department for International Trade published summaries of responses to its consultations on trade negotiations with the US, Australia and New Zealand, as well as potential accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The four consultations attracted 601,121 responses from business, civil society, trade experts and members of the public.

The Government says that there was significant support for the opportunity free trade agreements offer to reduce tariffs with key markets, as well as removing wider barriers to trade.

Many respondents said that new free trade agreements could create opportunities to cut red tape, advance digital trade, remove barriers for the services sector, increase mutual recognition of qualifications and allow greater movement of skilled workers.

Many respondents to the consultation on negotiations with the US commented that there is an opportunity for the UK’s “gold standard” intellectual property standards to be adopted by the US.

Through the consultation on negotiations with Australia, respondents identified increased opportunities for digital and financial services.

For New Zealand, various respondents prioritised opportunities in services, including FinTech, while others recognised the potential in a UK-New Zealand FTA to boost investment, notably in construction and publishing.

Respondents said CPTPP could help facilitate the UK’s trade and investment in important markets, expanding the UK’s influence in fast growing Asia and Latin America economies. They highlighted CPTPP’s value as a “benchmark” modern trade agreement. Respondents also cited the role CPTPP accession could play in facilitating investment and harmonising regulation, all of which could be a positive driver for UK business growth.

Some respondents, largely associated with civil society and campaign groups, expressed concerns around the potential impact of Free Trade Agreements on the NHS. The Government says that the International Trade Secretary has consistently made it clear that the NHS will not be privatised, and any future trade agreements will not change that.

Respondents also highlighted concerns on the impact of potential deals on food standards. The Government says that it “recognises these concerns and has been clear it will not compromise the high quality of British food or agricultural standards in any free trading relationship and is committed to maintaining high standards on animal welfare and food safety after the UK leaves the EU”.

The Government says that it will continue to engage with stakeholders “to understand their concerns and help inform trade policy”.

These initial consultations will inform the Government’s overall approach to our future trade relationships. The Government says that it is committed to “an open and transparent approach” as it develops its independent trade policy for the first time in more than 40 years, and will “continue to engage on specific issues as negotiations progress”. To read the Government’s press release in full and for a link to the response summaries, click here.

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