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International Trade Committee to scrutinise New Zealand deal

1 March 2022

The International Trade Committee launches its scrutiny of the UK’s new trade agreement with New Zealand, with a call for evidence on the deal.

The Committee will examine how the agreement will affect people and businesses across the UK, and the likely economic, social and environmental impacts of the deal.

The Committee will investigate what opportunities and potential costs the agreement presents – for the UK as a whole, as well as for the devolved nations and English regions - and for consumers and businesses. The Committee will also explore whether the Government’s negotiation strategy has been successful, if any opportunities have been missed and whether there are any barriers that may prevent businesses taking full advantage of the agreement.

MPs on the Committee will also consider whether the Government has got the balance right when it comes to any trade-offs, and the potential implications of these on the UK economy.

The Committee will take written evidence submissions from interested parties and oral evidence from experts, stakeholders and the Government, before publishing a report on the deal to inform scrutiny of the agreement by the whole House of Commons.

Chair's comment

Commenting on the trade deal announcement, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, Chair of the International Trade Committee, said:

“While increased trade with New Zealand is a welcome prospect, the details of this agreement will be key, and we will scrutinise whether the Government has secured the best deal possible for the UK. We want to know how successful the Government has been in meeting its negotiating objectives, including its aim to open up New Zealand to UK services, and what concessions it has given in return.

“Of particular concern is the speed at which tariffs will be removed for some agricultural products, and it’s vital that British farmers are not undermined by the Government’s desire to sign a deal in haste.

“The Government must make good on its commitment to allow Parliament to scrutinise this deal – including sticking to their word that the Committee will receive details of trade agreements before they are sent to the press. If the Government is serious about scrutiny, it must better engage with our Committee. The lack of transparency and constant delays are not a sustainable way to ensure good parliamentary oversight of the international agreements that the Government is committing to.

“It must be clear about how long we will have to examine the agreements signed between the UK, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the advice given by the Trade and Agriculture Commission, and the Government’s report following that advice, before the ratification period begins.” 

The Secretary of State has previously informed the Committee that it would receive embargoed details of trade agreements before they were issued to the press. The Government did not honour this when the New Zealand agreement was signed and the Chair has expressed concerns that this approach represents a “severe discourtesy” to Parliament.

The Committee has also called on the Government to provide assurances that it will meet its prior commitments on ensuring sufficient time for scrutiny of the deal, rather than rush to start the 21-day ratification clock. It has also recently expressed disappointment that the Government had rejected the recommendations of the International Affairs Committee Working Practices report, and called for scrutiny commitments made by the previous Secretary of State to be honoured.

Further information

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