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Chair calls on Secretary of State to urgently update ‘no-deal' Brexit guidance

1 August 2019

The Chair of the International Trade Committee (ITC), Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, has written to the newly-appointed Secretary of State for International Trade, Elizabeth Truss MP, urging her Department to update its guidance to UK businesses on trading with non-EU countries in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The letter follows a recent ITC evidence session on the impact of a no-deal scenario on trade with third (non-EU) countries. During the session, the Committee took evidence from international trade experts and practitioners before hearing from the CEOs of the Food and Drink Federation, Make UK, and the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders. The transcript of the hearing has now been published online.

The Committee questioned witnesses on the quality of the no-deal guidance provided by the Department for International Trade (DIT) to businesses trading with third countries. The Committee heard that the current guidance, ‘Exporting after Brexit if there's no deal - country by country', does not provide clear advice on the steps businesses should take to prepare for any changes to their specific trading arrangements in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The Committee also heard that DIT should be more proactive in supporting businesses that may not be aware they are currently trading on arrangements provided for by EU free trade agreements. The terms of these agreements may not apply to the UK, or apply in an altered form, in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Chair's comments

Commenting on the letter, Chair of the Committee Angus Brendan MacNeil MP said:

“The faces at the top of the Government may have changed, but the lack of clarity for businesses attempting to plan for non-EU trade following a no-deal Brexit remains a matter of considerable concern.

“My Committee recently took evidence from representatives from the UK's automotive, food and drink, and manufacturing sectors about the Government's ‘no-deal' support for UK businesses trading with non-EU countries. We were left in no doubt that a more proactive approach to informing businesses about the potential changes to the terms on which they trade is urgently required.

“Broad-brush policy guidance is all very well, but if the new Secretary of State really wants to prepare UK businesses for no-deal she must make it a priority for her Department to provide practical to-do lists aimed at UK exporters and importers of goods and services.

“With no-deal becoming an increasingly likely prospect it is essential that businesses trading internationally are properly prepared for what may be to come.”

Post-Brexit continuity of EU trade agreements

Separately, the Committee has also today published correspondence from former Secretary of State Liam Fox MP, which provides a list of countries who have publicly stated that they support treating the UK as if it were an EU member state, in relation to the EU's international trade agreements, during any transition period.

Further information

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