The UK's trade policy after leaving the European Union
This page brings together the work the Assembly undertook in response to the UK Government's proposals for future trade after leaving the European Union, including the Trade Bill.
On 9 October 2017, the UK Government published Preparing for our future UK Trade Policy.
This policy paper set out the UK Government's vision for a UK trade policy after leaving the European Union.
The paper set out five priorities for the new trading policy:
- Trade that is transparent and inclusive: the paper stated that the UK Government would make trade negotiations and policy transparent including to the devolved legislatures but did not set out a specific mechanism for how it would do this.
- Supporting a rules based global trading environment: the UK would uphold the commitments made by virtue of its World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership and ensure it had implemented the necessarily legislation to plug any gaps in commitments made as a result of its withdrawal from the EU.
- Boosting trading relationships: the paper stated that the UK would seek new trading relationships and that it would begin discussions about these during any implementation period. It stated that devolved administrations would be included in the discussions as well as public bodies such as the NHS.
- Supporting developing countries: preferential access would continue to be offered to developing countries to support their economic development. Legislation would be needed to allow the UK to develop standalone systems for this.
- Ensure a level playing field: the UK would establish systems for trade remedies and disputes that replicated the existing procedures and remedies available to UK business by virtue of the UK’s membership of the EU.
In relation to the role of devolved governments and legislatures in trade policies and agreements the paper stated:
"We will ensure the way we develop our own trade policy is transparent and inclusive so that concerns are heard and understood, and the right facts are available. Parliament, the devolved administrations, devolved legislatures, local government, business, trade unions, civil society, consumers, employees and the public from every part of the UK will have the opportunity to engage with and contribute to our trade policy, to develop an approach which maximises the benefits felt across UK society and its regions."
On 7 November 2017, the UK Government introduced the Trade Bill to the House of Commons. This Bill provided:
- Powers for UK Ministers and Devolved Ministers to make changes to domestic law that may be required to implement the WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement;
- Powers for UK Ministers and Devolved Ministers to make changes to domestic law required to implement any agreements the UK Government reaches with third party countries who have already signed a trade deal with the EU;
- For the establishment of a Trade Remedies Authority; and
- Powers for HMRC to collect and share additional data and information on UK exporters.
The Bill required the Assembly's legislative consent as it touched on devolved matters in a number of areas.
The Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee undertook an inquiry Selling Wales to the World that looked at the Welsh Government's international trade approach.
The External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee - the Assembly's 'Brexit Committee' - gave some consideration to the implications of future UK trade policy for Wales during its first phase of work, culminating in its January 2017 report Implications for Wales of leaving the European Union.
On the publication of the UK Government's policy paper, the Committee wrote to (PDF, 147KB) the Secretary of State for International Trade to seek more information about the role the UK Government envisages for the devolved legislatures. Other correspondence with the UK Government on trade can be viewed below.
The Welsh Government laid a Legislative Consent Memorandum on 7 December 2017. Subsequently, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee published its report: The Trade Bill: Report on legislative consent and associated issues in March 2018.
The External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee published its supplementary report: The Trade Bill - Second report on legislative consent and associated issues in March 2019.
The National Assembly for Wales voted to give consent to the Trade Bill on 12 March 2019.
Following an amendment to the Bill, a further supplementary LCM was debated in Plenary on 21 May 2019.
Consequently, the National Assembly voted in favour of the Bill being considered further by the UK Parliament.
The Committee put some questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance on the Trade Bill at its meeting on 20 November 2017. It also put questions to the First Minister of Wales at its meeting on 27 November 2017.
On 4 December 2017, the Committee held a private seminar with three academics to explore the implications for Wales of the UK Government's future trade policy and the implications for Wales of the Trade Bill.
On 12 February 2018, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee held an evidence session with Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport on the Trade Bill, the associated Welsh Government Legislative Consent Memorandum and the Welsh Government’s paper on Trade policy: Issues for Wales.
On 12 March 2018, Committee Members received a presentation from Professor Nick Perdikis on his report: Modelling the Economic Impact of Brexit on the Welsh Economy
On 18 April 2018, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport. The letter (PDF, 223KB) concerned reports that the UK Government had undertaken discussions with countries outside the European Union about future trade.
On 14 May 2018, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee held a scrutiny session with the First Minister for Wales. The session focused on the implications of UK trade policy and the EU Withdrawal Bill.
On 15 October 2018, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee held an evidence session with George Hollingbery MP, Minister of State for Trade Policy.
On 12 November 2018, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee held an informal private seminar with Dr Ludivine Petetin on the World Trade Organisation.
Information on the Committee’s scrutiny of international agreements can be found here.
Business type: Legislative Consent
First published: 05/12/2017
- The Trade Bill: Second report on legislative consent and associated issues – March 2019
- Correspondence from the Chair to Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport regarding trade policy after Brexit and the implications for Wales - 19 July 2018 PDF 151 KB
- Correspondence from George Hollingbery MP, Minister of State for Trade regarding amendments to the Trade Bill – 10 July 2018 PDF 130 KB
- Correspondence from the Cabinet Secretary for Economy to Angus MacNeil MP, Chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on International Trade, regarding UK trade strategy post Brexit - 21 June 2018 PDF 283 KB
- Correspondence from Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for Trade Policy regarding the implications of future trade policy for Wales – 11 June 2018 PDF 97 KB
- Correspondence from David Rees, Chair of the External Affairs and the Additional Legislation Committee to Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for Trade Policy regarding the Implications of future trade policy for Wales – 16 May 2018 PDF 153 KB
- Correspondence to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport regarding trade policy after Brexit – 18 April 2018 PDF 223 KB
- External Affairs and Additional Legislation report: The Trade Bill - legislative consent and associated issues - March 2018
- Letter from Minister of State for Trade Policy to the Chair future trade - 14 November 2017 PDF 90 KB
- Correspondence from the Chair to the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding Customs Bill White Paper: Implications for Wales - 26 October 2017 PDF 150 KB
- Letter from the Chair to the Secretary of State for International Trade on future trade policy - 26 October 2017 PDF 147 KB