Responding to the publication of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, Helen Dennis, Policy & Advocacy Manager, at the Fairtrade Foundation said:
“This Bill is something of a mixed bag for developing nations and a lot of detail is missing. While it is pleasing to see the government make good on its promise to offer duty-free and quota-free market access to the least developed countries and now enshrine this in law, we still don’t have much clarity on its approach to the wider group of low-income countries who are also listed as eligible for preferential access. Our view is that the duty-free, quota-free offer could be extended beyond the LDCs, including to some of the countries which are currently subject to ‘Economic Partnership Agreements’ (EPAs) with the EU. We very much hope that this is still on the table.
“In setting future tariff rates with other countries it is also essential that we factor in the impact on developing nations. Disappointingly the Bill seems to gloss over this and focuses solely on the interests of UK consumers and UK economy. We hope the government will amend its approach and commit to conducting impact assessments to ensure future policy-making on trade is also considered from a development and human rights perspective, in line with the UN Global Goals.
“As with the Trade Bill the government has failed in this Bill to ensure a proper role for parliament, relying instead on statutory instruments to push things through. Such crucial decisions on market access, demand thorough scrutiny and we hope the government will bring forward amendments to ensure transparent and robust decision making on trade policy. Fairtrade campaigners know that these decisions will impact directly on the lives of producers around the world. Almost 20,000 of them have now signed a petition demanding that trade deals are not done in the dark – we hope that the government is listening.”