Trade Bill (UK)

This is a Brexit bill (a bill that results from the UK’s departure from the EU). The bill describes itself as an instrument – to make provision about the implementation of international trade agreements; to make provision establishing the Trade Remedies Authority and conferring functions on it; and to make provision about the collection and disclosure of information relating to trade.

The bill is nearing Royal Assent (passage into law as an Act). As an Act, it will –

(1) give Ministers the power to ensure that the UK can implement procurement obligations that will arise from the UK acceding to the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). The GPA is a plurilateral agreement within the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework.

This power will allow the Government and the devolved authorities to use the negative resolution procedure (a procedure that allows a Minister to sign an instrument into law immediately without debate) to implement changes to domestic law to meet and enforce obligations arising from its independent membership of the GPA.

(2) give Ministers the power to implement continuity UK trade agreements with partner countries with which the EU has existing trade agreements as at 31 January 2020.

This power will allow the Government and devolved authorities to use the affirmative resolution procedure (a procedure that allows a Minister to sign an instrument into law after a short debate that cannot amend the instrument) to implement the changes to domestic law which will be necessary for the UK to meet obligations flowing from these agreements.

The power cannot be used to implement a free trade agreement with the USA or China.

The current state of agreed UK continuity trade agreements is here.

[in addition, the UK has agreed a Free Trade Deal with the EU, given effect by the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 – implementing instruments also flow from it – as they do from the pre-existing Withdrawal Acts 2018 and 2020 – we term this Brexit law]

(3) establish the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), a new organisation to be set up to deliver a UK trade remedies framework, and to enable the TRA to provide advice, support and assistance to the Secretary of State in connection with the conduct of international disputes, other functions of the Secretary of State relating to trade and functions of the TRA.

The TRA may also provide advice, support and assistance in relation to international trade and trade remedies to others as it considers appropriate.

(4) give a power to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to enable HMRC to collect information on behalf of the Government to confirm the number of exporters of goods and services there are in the UK, and to enable the Government to identify those exporters for trade promotion purposes.

(5) create a power to establish a data sharing gateway between HMRC and other public and private bodies, so that those bodies, including the Department for International Trade, can discharge their public functions and access relevant data for research, monitoring and evaluation.

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