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International Trade Committee launches inquiry into the UK-Australia free trade agreement

17 December 2021

The International Trade Committee today launches a new inquiry, examining the UK-Australia free trade agreement which was signed yesterday. The deal is the first trade agreement that the UK has negotiated entirely from scratch since it left the EU.

In its inquiry into UK trade negotiations: Agreement with Australia the Committee will examine whether the Government has secured a good deal for both the UK as a whole and its constituent parts, as well as what the agreement means for UK businesses and consumers.   

The Committee will scrutinise all the areas the agreement covers, including tariffs and quotas, food safety, animal and plant health measures, product standards, trade in services, movement of persons, investment, digital trade, consumer protection, and provisions on labour standards, the environment, gender equality and animal welfare.  

The Committee will have at least three months to examine the text and to hear from experts and stakeholders about the impacts of the agreement. MPs on the Committee will then publish a report, to inform scrutiny of the agreement by the whole House of Commons.

Chair's comments  

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

"The UK’s first trade deal negotiated from scratch for more than forty years has now been signed, but what does it mean for people and businesses? We’ll be combing over the details of the deal to see if it works and how the benefits and any drawbacks really stack up. 

We want to make sure that the Government has taken a strategic approach – with an appropriate balance of benefits for businesses and consumers across all parts of the UK, and taking account of environmental and other wider impacts – rather than rushing into an agreement just to ‘get it done’, as the National Audit Office recently warned.  

We have particular concerns over how the economic benefit of the new deal has been calculated. The Government’s own initial scoping assessment suggested that the resulting long-term UK GDP gain could be as little as 0.01%. We will be paying close attention to the figures in the Government’s Impact Assessment document for the signed deal.  

It’s critical that we have enough time to scrutinise the details of the deal to assess the benefits and trade-offs, so we can inform parliamentary debate. We have been promised at least three months before the agreement is formally laid before Parliament and we expect the Government to stick to that". 

Further information

Image: CCO