Responding to publication of the Government’s Trade White Paper, Tim Aldred, Head of Policy, at the Fairtrade Foundation commented:
“It is vital that we think about the UK’s future trade policy, from the point of view of those producers, many in poorer countries, who depend on the UK market for export. Any dramatic changes to UK policy as a consequence of Brexit could make or break these economies, either expanding opportunities or pushing people into poverty.
“We’re glad that the government has recognised the importance of trade for development within the Trade White Paper and has already pledged to roll over duty-free and quota-free access for the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). However many challenges remain and it is still unclear how the government plans to guarantee access for countries such as Ghana and Kenya. One option could be to expand and improve upon the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences through the UK’s own unilateral scheme proposed in the White Paper, and we welcome the opportunity to provide further evidence on this.
“Many Fairtrade partners will also be keeping a close eye on customs arrangements between the UK and the EU 27 which could impact on trade routes for commodities such as tea, coffee and flowers.
“The Fairtrade Foundation is also calling for thorough impact assessments to accompany any future trade talks between the UK and other economies. New deals with countries like the United States or Australia have the potential to erode the advantage that poorer countries have through preference schemes, and this must be fully analysed and understood before decisions are taken.
“Finally, we welcome the White Paper’s promise of trade that is transparent and inclusive – it is our hope that UK parliamentarians, and devolved administrations and legislatures, will be given a much greater say going forward in the negotiations of trade deals. Over the years we have worked very effectively with UK MEPs who care about development and who have had the opportunity to scrutinise and vote on trade agreements. UK MPs and Peers currently have no such powers, and we expect the government to address this anomaly through the Trade & Customs Bills later this autumn.”