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International Trade Committee launch inquiry on Trade and Foreign Policy

6 December 2021

The International Trade Committee today launches a new inquiry exploring the interplay between the UK’s approach to trade and its foreign policy objectives.

In a new inquiry on Trade and Foreign Policy, the Committee will examine the extent to which the Government should advance its foreign policy strategy through trade agreements. MPs will explore how, and whether, trade levers should be applied to achieve specific foreign policy goals.

The Committee will also examine whether free trade agreements (FTAs) and broader trade policy can be used to promote human rights, the rules-based international order and democratic values, and to what degree trade agreements can be used as a ‘soft-power’ tool to further British interests globally.

The inquiry follows the publication of the Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy in March 2021, which outlines how the Government will align trade and foreign policy, while linking trade liberalisation to the economic prosperity of British citizens.

Recently announced Agreements in Principle with Australia and New Zealand indicate that trade agreements will seek to further the UK’s foreign policy objectives, alongside bringing domestic benefits to UK businesses and consumers.

Chair's comment

Commenting on the inquiry launch, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, Chair of the International Trade Committee, said: 

“Our new inquiry is an opportunity to explore how the Government’s trade negotiations can bolster democracy, human rights and environmental goals across the globe.

“With the UK Government stating that it wants to strike ambitious trade agreements with numerous countries around the world, we will explore whether the Government can and should utilise the rewards of free trade to achieve its foreign policy goals.

“We welcome evidence from stakeholders with an interest in, and expertise on, this important topic.”

The new inquiry will sit alongside the Committee’s existing work on topics including UK trade negotiations and the UK-EU trading relationship.

Further information

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