Amendment 6

Part of Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords am 6:45 pm ar 16 Ionawr 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Johnson of Lainston Lord Johnson of Lainston Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) 6:45, 16 Ionawr 2024

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in this debate, particularly the noble Lord, Lord McNicol, for his engagement, his very good summary of the various amendments and the points that he raised. If the House will indulge me, I will go through the different points quite carefully because there are so many elements. I beg forgiveness if I do not cover every point. My noble friend Lady McIntosh laid down a very great number of requests, which I am happy to answer outside this debate, with the broad provisions to be raised where I can.

Let me stress again how seriously this Government take parliamentary scrutiny of our FTA agenda. With this in mind, a full impact assessment for the UK’s accession to the CPTPP was indeed published at signature in July 2023, which is important to note, alongside the accession protocol text and a draft Explanatory Memorandum. This included assessments of potential economic impact on UK GDP and environmental impacts. This is important. I will refer back to the Section 42 report where relevant to reinforce and, hopefully, reassure Members of this House of the benign impact of CPTPP membership on our environment and border controls.

I want to pick up on a point made by my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering about supporting our farmers and agricultural producers in this country. It is absolutely at the core of this Government’s policy to do that. The reason I am excited about the CPTPP is because of what we will be able to achieve when it comes to promoting our dairy industry: the additional quota access that we will have, for example, for cheese into Canada; the opportunities we will have to sell chocolate into Malaysia, reducing tariffs significantly; the opportunity to sell Scotch whisky into many of the CPTPP countries with lower tariffs.

We can combine these trade agreements with the extraordinarily strong work done by my noble friend Lord Offord of Garvel, who is in his usual place today, with regard to supporting exporters, and with the muscle of the Department for Business and Trade, the work of the agricultural attachés, and all that we are doing to promote exports around the world. This is why we are here. This is a positive and powerful expression of the extraordinary economic reach of the United Kingdom, particularly in its agricultural sector. I understand that there are concerns, and I will cover them, but let us understand why we are here in the first place: to promote our agriculture—an extraordinarily powerful sector in this country—to expand its interests abroad and create more wealth for farmers in the United Kingdom.

I want to touch on the monitoring report, which we will publish after two years, as well as a comprehensive evaluation of the agreement after five years. This will include an assessment as to the environmental impacts. An inclusive and participatory process will be at the heart of the evaluation, providing structured opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders to share their views and provide evidence; that is, basically, a proper assessment and review.

I do not think it would be helpful to be specific on every single checkbox. I am keen to make any review useful. But I would be surprised—that is the language I wish to use—if the evaluation and monitoring reports did not cover information on: trade flows under CPTPP; utilisation of the agreement; ISDS cases, which will be important to many speakers today; an overview of the work of the committees under the agreement to facilitate co-operation and implementation—that is particularly relevant when it comes to labour standards, environmental standards, reduction of the risk of deforestation and many other areas. There will be information on the environment covering many of the issues discussed today and on the impact of the agreement on all parts of the United Kingdom.

This is important. I have been asked to make commitments at the Dispatch Box, and I am very comfortable doing so. It is vital to me as a proponent of free trade that we promote the benefits of this extraordinarily powerful multilateral agreement; I hope that will be shown in the impact assessments and in the reviews after two years and five years. My principal point about the amendments that have been put forward on this Bill is that they are unnecessary because we are doing this anyway.

I turn to deforestation and the issue of palm oil. I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Goldsmith for his amendment and for the passion that he brings to this vital subject. I believe that he is to be celebrated as someone who has truly brought to bear some significant changes to the legislation of this country following on from the Environment Act and the secondary legislation around the obligations on businesses relating to deforestation, which we will be bringing in; I am reassured by my officials that we are aiming for spring of this year. I want to applaud the work of my noble friend and say how important it is, and how vital for the future of this country and the world, that trade does not lead to a degradation of our environment and natural habitats.

My son came to watch some of this debate. He has now left; I think the third hour was the final straw for an 11 year-old. We are doing this in order that our children will have a world to inherit, as well as a strong economy in the United Kingdom. At no point have we ever suggested that we should separate our obligations to the future of this planet in relation to the importance of free trade. Those who do that are mistaken. In my view, they are inextricably linked. The positives of free trade are so significant and the opportunity for dialogue allows us to solve these problems.

I want to touch on the point about palm oil, which is very powerful. The Trade and Agriculture Commission, for whose feedback I am extremely grateful, has noted that the Malaysian sustainable palm oil certification had become a mandatory condition since January 2020 for the palm oil industry, as has been raised. The new 2022 version prohibits palm oil cultivation on land cleared after December 2019. This is very important. Provided that this new standard is fully implemented by January 2025 and compliance with it is effectively enforced, there is a

“low risk that Malaysian palm oil exported to the UK would come from land that was deforested after December 2019”.

It goes on to say:

“Moreover, the UK may be able to enforce Malaysia’s implementation of the 2022 MPSO standard if failure to do so has an effect on bilateral trade”.

That is extremely relevant.

My noble friend Lord Goldsmith was right to point out that we are signatories to the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which commits both parties—clearly, we are looking at Malaysia in this instance—to halt and, indeed, reverse forest losses by 2030. This is the whole point about the CPTPP. It allows us to align our values with our partner countries, to raise their standards, to enable and facilitate, through the power of free trade and the wealth that it creates, the opportunity to improve their environment. I am grateful to my noble friend for pressing us on these points and I hope that I have answered his questions to his satisfaction.