Parliamentary round-up: Developing nations scheme, electronic trade documents and New Statesman live

Fri 30 Jun 2023
Posted by: Grace Thompson, Charles Bowden

UK Parliament in a bright sunny day

In the latest parliamentary round-up, the Institute of Export & International Trade's public affairs lead, Grace Thompson, covers the latest from business and trade questions, as well as an update on the long-awaited Electronic Trade Documents Bill (ETDB).

Business and Trade Questions

Business and Trade Questions took place on Thursday morning (29 June), with the secretary of state for business and trade, Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch and her team of ministers taking to the despatch box.

Of particular interest, Badenoch highlighted that the recently launched Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) – the scheme to improve access to the UK market for developing countries - as one that is “more generous” in terms of its market access than the previous arrangement under the EU, with the potential to reduce import costs by more than £770m.

Later in the session, Nigel Huddleston, minister for international trade, celebrated the scheme’s significance in Africa, with 37 of the 65 members being African countries. Prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is set to host the 2nd UK-Africa Investment summit in early 2024.

A week after the UK signed its fifth state level trade deal with Utah in the US, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) was questioned on the steps it had been taking to improve market access to the US by Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi.

Badenoch championed her department’s work in securing tariff-free imports of UK steel and aluminum into the US, which has the potential to directly support 80,000 jobs in UK supply chains.

However, MPs criticised the government, saying Sunak’s administration it had not lived up to its 2019 election promise of a UK-US trade deal, which appears to be a long way off.

Electronic Trade Documents Bill update

The ETDB is fast approaching the end of its legislative journey.

This week, the Scottish Parliament approved a motion accepting that “the relevant provisions of ETDB … so far as these matters fall within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament … should be considered by the UK Parliament.”

With this devolved motion approved, the bill now returns to the UK Parliament for its report stage in the House of Commons on 20 July.

This gives MPs an opportunity to consider any further amendments to the bill. Although this stage can sometimes last several days, this bill is so uncontroversial that the remaining stages (including a final Third Reading and Consideration of Amendments) are likely to be conducted quickly, prior to the bill receiving Royal Assent.

The New Statesman Politics Live 2023

At the New Statesman’s PoliticsLive event this week, industry leaders, academics, and MPs from Westminster’s three biggest parties came together to discuss the major areas of public policy ahead of the next general election, expected sometime in 2023.

Charlie Bowden, public affairs intern at the IOE&IT, was in attendance to monitor the pulse.

“Three words stuck out to me, that cropped up in each discussion – creativity, productivity, and growth,” he writes.

“It’s evident, at the top levels of policymaking and thought-leadership, that whatever the outcome of the next election, there is strong consensus that modernisation and progress are going to go hand-in-hand. It seems to be the case that international trade can lead the charge in this area.”