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Call for evidence

Beyond tariffs: facilitating future UK-EU trade in manufactured goods

The House of Lords EU Goods Sub-Committee, chaired by Baroness Verma, has launched an inquiry into non-tariff barriers that could affect future UK-EU trade in manufactured goods and how these could be addressed in the future economic relationship to facilitate trade.

The Committee invites interested individuals and organisations to submit written evidence to this inquiry by 13 July 2020. Public hearings are expected to take place in June and July, and the Committee aims to report to the House in the autumn.

Diversity comes in many forms, and hearing a range of different perspectives means that Committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinise public policy and legislation. Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a select committee to share their views with the committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome.

Background

While the UK has left the EU, it continues to have access to the EU Single Market for the duration of the transition period. This means that goods can be traded between the UK and the EU27 as if the UK were still an EU Member State. However, this will change at the end of the transition period, even if there is a free trade agreement in place.

While the negotiating mandates of both sides agree that there should be no tariffs or quotas in the future UK-EU trade agreement, there will be new non-tariff barriers to UK-EU trade in goods. Examples of non-tariff barriers that could act as an obstacle to trade include complex rules of origin or regulatory requirements.

There is evidence that non-tariff barriers could be a significant impediment to future UK-EU trade. A recent research paper by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) found that the costs of non-tariff barriers between the UK and EU could be greater than the costs associated with the WTO tariffs that would be imposed in the absence of an agreement.

This inquiry will consider the effect that non-tariff barriers may have on future UK-EU trade in manufactured goods and how their impact could be minimised, particularly through the UK-EU trade agreement. It will cover three main strands: technical barriers to trade such as regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures; rules of origin that determine the ‘economic nationality’ of a product; and customs and trade facilitation measures that could support the flow of goods across borders.

The inquiry

The Committee seeks evidence on the following questions in particular:

  1. What are likely to be the key non-tariff barriers affecting future UK-EU trade in goods and how could these affect the operations of UK businesses?
  2. What are likely to be the most important technical barriers to UK trade with the EU? How could these be addressed in the future UK-EU trade agreement and what precedents exist in other trade agreements?
  3. What form of regulatory cooperation should there be between the UK and EU, including cooperation with EU agencies?
  4. How could the UK and EU minimise the costs and disruption associated with any testing and compliance processes that will be required, including conformity assessments? How effective would mutual recognition be in keeping these to a minimum?
  5. What arrangements on rules of origin should there be between the UK and the EU? What precedents are there for bespoke arrangements in other trade agreements?
  6. How could customs processes and documentation be simplified to support UK-EU trade? What role could new technology play in this regard?
  7. What improvements should be made to existing customs facilitations, such as trusted trader schemes, particularly for the benefit of small and newly-established businesses?
  8. Are there any other areas where the UK or EU should be more ambitious in reducing the costs associated with non-tariff barriers?
  9. What impact would the absence of a UK-EU trade agreement at the end of the transition period have on non-tariff barriers and, consequently, UK businesses? How prepared are UK businesses for this situation and what should they be doing to get ready?

You do not need to answer all of these questions.

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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