MPs get chance to scrutinise UK-New Zealand trade deal as committee criticises approval process

Thu 27 Oct 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

UK Parliament - trade deal scrutiny

A post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and New Zealand will soon face parliamentary scrutiny, despite MPs issuing fresh criticism of the review process.

The UK-New Zealand trade deal is being laid before Parliament today (27 October), with formal scrutiny taking place in the coming weeks, according to City AM.

International trade secretary Kemi Badenoch made the announcement in a letter to Angus MacNeil MP, the chair of the International Trade Committee.

‘Committed to transparency’

“This government is committed to transparency, and we have worked hard to ensure that robust scrutiny of the deal can take place,” she wrote.

“At entry into force, businesses will benefit from the removal of tariffs on 100% of UK goods exports and through the modern rules of origin agreed, businesses will better be able to take advantage of tariff elimination without the need to significantly change their supply chains.”

CRaG scrutiny

Badenoch had promised a period of at least 10 sitting days between publication of Section 42 reports and the start of treaty scrutiny under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRaG), as reported by the IOE&IT Daily Update.

However, MacNeil has criticised the entire process of scrutinising trade deals and called for changes to the process in a new report, also issued today.

‘Not fit for purpose’

MacNeil, a member of the Scottish Nationalist Party, said: “Despite warm words, the government has swerved our scrutiny and deliberately prevented MPs from being given a proper say on these vitally important agreements.”

“It’s clear that the current approach is not fit for purpose,” he added, calling for the government to commit to full scrutiny of trade agreements.

The committee also said they had received evidence that the government’s current trade policy “lacks clarity, strategy and coherence,” and urged the publication of a clear single trade strategy.

Earlier in the week, the committee had warned of purported risks to the UK’s food security in a separate report on the New Zealand deal.

Agri-food concerns

The committee’s report, released Monday (24 October), raised concerns over the elimination of tariffs and the impact of cheaper imports on the UK food market

According to the Irish Farmers Journal, the report stated that the domestic agri-food sector would face increased competition from New Zealand exports.

Ratification

However, in spite of this criticism, the report did recommend that “on balance, the agreement should be ratified.”

However, it stated it was “shocking” that the government did not have a thorough standing of the impact on Northern Ireland when signing trade deals, citing the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol as a key factor.