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International Trade Committee to scrutinise trade negotiations with Gulf and Pacific nations

29 November 2021

The International Trade Committee is to investigate prospective trade agreements with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

In two new inquiries, the Committee will explore the Government’s respective negotiating objectives, investigate the impacts on businesses and consumers, and scrutinise the text of trade agreements.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

In March 2021, the Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development, and Foreign Policy identified trade with the Gulf states as a means to support the levelling-up agenda in the UK, and to further the UK’s security objectives in the region.

The GCC is a political and economic union that consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Government has signalled its intention to negotiate a trade agreement with the GCC. The Committee’s inquiry will scrutinise these negotiations, with a particular interest in how an agreement will affect people and businesses across the UK, the likely economic, social and environmental impacts, and how a free trade agreement could further the UK’s strategic objectives in the region.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

CPTPP is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. The agreement was signed in March 2018.

The Government has signalled its intention to join CPTPP in 2022, following the UK’s attendance at the first meeting of the CPTPP Accession Working Group in September 2021.

The Committee will explore the Government’s strategic approach and scrutinise its negotiating objectives as well as the final text and provisions of the accession agreement.

The Committee is particularly interested in the impact on UK consumers and businesses, and the likely economic, social and environmental impacts of the agreement.

Chair's comment

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

“Today, we are launching two new inquiries to examine the Government’s progress at it looks to meet its aims of joining the CPTPP and signing a trade deal with the GCC nations.

“We will explore the Government’s negotiating objectives and approach and take evidence on the environmental, economic and social impacts of the deals secured.

“It is important that Parliament has time to thoroughly scrutinise these trade deals. As a Committee, we will continue to push the Government to ensure MPs have sufficient time to investigate agreements and their ramifications.”

The inquiries sit alongside the Committee’s work into UK trade negotiations and agreement with New Zealand.

Agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) inquiry

Terms of reference

  • In the first instance, we welcome short submissions which address any of the following:
    • The chapters or content the Government should seek to include in a free trade agreement with the GCC, and the considerations which should be given to each.
    • Thoughts on the Government’s consultation exercise, the summary of responses produced, and stakeholder engagement.
    • The extent to which a free trade agreement with the GCC could;
      • Offer benefits to UK businesses and consumers;
      • Support the Government’s levelling-up agenda;
      • Support the Government’s broader commitment to ‘build back better’;
      • Further the Government’s climate and environment goals; and
      • Further the UK’s foreign policy goals, including regional defence, security, and resilience objectives, and address human rights concerns.
    • Considerations the Government should give to:
      • the red lines it should seek to establish, privately or publicly, to frame the bounds of negotiations; and
      • tailoring its negotiating approach to account for the political divergences between constituent states of the GCC.

Deadline for submissions

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) accession inquiry

Terms of reference

  • In the first instance, we welcome short submissions which address any of the following questions:
    • How adequately do the strategic approach / negotiating objectives reflect concerns raised during the public consultation?
    • How are the terms of the UK’s accession to the CPTPP likely to affect you, your business or organisation, or those that you represent?
    • What are the potential impacts of an agreement on:
      • the UK’s economy as a whole?
      • particular sectors of the UK economy?
      • the UK’s devolved nations and English regions?
      • social, labour, environmental and animal welfare issues?
      • UK consumers?
    • And how useful are the round reports in making this assessment?
    • To what extent does accession to the CPTPP offer an opportunity for the UK to further its strategic objectives in the region?
    • During negotiations:
      • How effectively has Government communicated its progress; and
      • Has Government adequately continued to consult stakeholders?

Deadline for submissions

  • The Committee is asking for initial written evidence to be submitted through the Committee’s web portal, on an ongoing basis while Accession Working Group discussions continue.
  • It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons which outlines particulars of word count, format, document size, and content restrictions.

Form of written evidence

  • Submissions should be no longer than 3,000 words. The main body of any submission should use numbered paragraphs. Each submission should contain:
    • a short summary, perhaps in bullet point form;
    • a brief introduction about the person or organisation submitting evidence, for example explaining their area of expertise or experience;
    • any factual information from which the Committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses;
    • any recommendations for action by the Government or others which the submitter would like the Committee to consider for inclusion in its report to the House.
  • Submissions should be in malleable format such as MS Word (not PDFs) with no use of colour or logos. Guidance on submitting written evidence and data protection information is available here: Guidance on submitting written evidence.

Diversity

  • We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind when we ask them to choose a representative. We are currently monitoring the diversity of our witnesses.

Further information

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