Uk Signs Eastern And Southern Africa Trade Continuity Agreement


The Faroe Islands are, for example, the 114th largest trading partner of the United Kingdom, and total British exports are only $6 million. To put this in context, it is one-fifth of the doomed ferry contract, which Chris Grayling approved. Again, I do not want to reduce our relationship with these islands, but they are tiny sums of money linked to the whole of British trade. The new agreement between the UK and ESA reiterates, as far as possible, the effects of existing trade agreements. It will come into force at the end of the implementation period in January 2021 or 29 March 2019, when the UK will leave the EU without a deal. The agreement with the Faroe Islands is concerned with ensuring access to the UK island fishing market and respecting duty-free relations with regard to imports to the United Kingdom worth 23 million pounds, mainly fish and shellfish. I can understand that, from the point of view of the Faroe Islands, there has been a continuation, that access to our market must be assured and not the other way around. This will be purely beneficial and I have no problem with a free trade agreement between us and the ferocious. However, the Committee stated that there was a difference in the preamble to the agreements, which is a matter of interest. The Committee pointed out that the preambles to the agreements, although they do not have the legal force of the agreements themselves, provide the framework. In its review, the Committee noted that there was a difference in the text of the preambles. It may not have been possible to reply directly to the language, but the committee asked why the reference to the existing fisheries agreement between the Faroe Islands and the European Union, which remains after our withdrawal, has not been replaced by an alternative text in our preamble.

It would be helpful if the minister could respond. Trade between Britain and the five African countries amounted to $1.5 billion in 2017. Based on current trade flows, the new agreement could save $30 million on tariffs for fish and meat exporters in the five African countries, compared to what would have happened if the agreement had not been signed. Savings for apparel manufacturers in the five countries could be more than $10 million per year and about $8 million for sugar exporters. As far as the UK is concerned, UK consumers will continue to benefit from wider choice and lower prices. The UK government has powers over trade agreements and international agreements, as well as the right and power to pass laws on all matters under parliamentary sovereignty, but the UK government will generally seek the compliant advice of the Devolved Parliament (s) when areas of agreement conflict with issues of decentralised jurisdiction. Whatever their ability to legislate, the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, has in mind that the processes of monitoring these continuity agreements are of concern. Let me repeat what has already been done in terms of control.

For the sake of clarity, these are the existing EU trade agreements that we base on bilateral agreements between the UK and third countries. That is why they have already been subject to a monitoring procedure at EU level, and this has been supervised in our Parliament by our EU special committees. The ratification of these agreements means that we can assure uk and third country companies that there will be continued trade in all EU exit scenarios.

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