The UK's trade policy after leaving the European Union

A picture containing sky

Description automatically generated


This page brings together the work of the Assembly in response to the UK Government's proposals for future trade, including the Trade Bill.




On 9 October 2017, the UK Government published Preparing for our future UK Trade Policy.

This policy paper sets out the UK Government's vision for a UK trade policy after it leaves the European Union.

The paper sets out five priorities for a new trading policy:


  • Trade that is transparent and inclusive: the paper states that the UK Government will make trade negotiations and policy transparent including to the devolved legislatures but does not set out a specific mechanism for how it will do this.
  • Supporting a rules based global trading environment: the UK will uphold the commitments made by virtue of its World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership and ensure it has 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 states that the UK will seek new trading relationships and that it will begin discussions about these during any implementation period. It states that devolved administrations will be included in the discussions as well as public bodies such as the NHS.
  • Supporting developing countries: preferential access will continued to be offered to developing countries to support their economic development. Legislation will be needed to allow the UK to develop standalone systems for this.
  • Ensure a level playing field:  the UK will establish systems for trade remedies and disputes that replicate 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 states:


"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 provides:


  • 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 will require the Assembly's legislative consent as it touches on devolved matters in a number of areas.


Assembly committees


The Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee has undertaken an inquiry Selling Wales to the World that looks 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 (PDF, 1MB).


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.


Legislative consent


The Welsh Government laid a Legislative Consent Memorandum on 7 December 2017. Subsequently, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee published its report on the Trade Bill: legislative consent and other associated issues (PDF, 338KB) on Friday 9 March 2018.


The External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee published its supplementary report: The Trade Bill - Second report on legislative consent and associated issues (PDF, 196KB) on Friday 8 March.


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 (PDF, 115 KB) 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.


Evidence gathering


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 Monday 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 Monday 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 Monday 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 Monday 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 Monday 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 Monday 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.  


Keeping in touch


If you'd like to know more about the work of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, please view its homepage, follow its Twitter account or contact the team that supports the Committee at


The Committee sends a regular Brexit Update email. If you'd like to receive this in your inbox, please email to request this.

Type: For information

First published: 05/12/2017




You are in :

  1. Home
  2. Senedd Business

Partners & Help