Trade remedies (also referred to as trade defence) describes the use of policy measures to restrict imports where a country believes those imports are unfairly damaging its own producers – i.e. where goods are dumped, subsidised or part of an unforeseen surge of imports. Trade defence measures (TDMs) usually take the form of a temporary tariff on the relevant import, proportionate to the level of harm caused.
Following the end of the post-Brexit transition period, the UK will conduct its own independent trade remedies policy. The Government is seeking to legislate for the creation of the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) through the Trade Bill. This provides for the TRA to have responsibility for conducting trade defence investigations and making recommendations about the imposition of TDMs (subject to an “economic interest” test) to the Secretary of State for International Trade. The power for the Secretary of State to introduce TDMs is contained in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018.
The TRA will be a non-departmental public body, i.e. an arm’s-length body, operating independently of the Department for International Trade (DIT). It is to be made up of a Chair, other non-executive members, a Chief Executive and other executive members. There must be no more than nine members altogether.
In March 2019, the Government established the Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate within DIT to fulfil the functions of the TRA pending the creation of the Authority.
The EU has over 100 TDMs currently in place. These measures continue to apply to the UK throughout the transition period. Following a consultation with business in 2018, the Government identified 43 existing EU TDMs to be maintained in the future, pending review. Sixty-three other measures will not be transitioned (for example, because the measures do not affect UK producers).
In February, the Government announced that it is reviewing each of the 43 EU TDMs over the coming months. Where a TDM meets the criteria to be retained, it will continue to apply at the end of the transition period. There is some debate as to where transitioned TDMs and the review process stand in relation to World Trade Organization law.