Preferential rates: arrangements with countries or territories outside UK

Part of Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:45 pm ar 25 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General 2:45, 25 Ionawr 2018

Current trading partners and others. Obviously, as an EU member, we are bound not to enter into any other arrangements prior to our departure, but I am confident that we are having appropriate conversations at this stage of our withdrawal.

In addition, as set out in the trade White Paper, after leaving the EU, the UK will have the opportunity to

“look to forge new and ambitious trade relationships with our partners around the world”.

Clause 9 provides a basis for those aims.

The clause enables the UK to implement preferential import duties on goods originating in territories covered by a preferential arrangement. That will cover arrangements made bilaterally with a Government of another territory. A recent example is the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between the EU and Canada.

The Bill refers to making arrangements to allow preferential rates of import duties to apply before an agreement is ratified. That is common when implementing FTAs and is the case under the comprehensive economic and trade agreement, which has been provisionally adopted but is not yet fully ratified.

The clause will also enable the UK to continue to provide preferential tariff treatment to those British overseas territories, including the British Virgin Islands and the Falkland Islands, that currently receive that access under the EU via the overseas association decision.

As I was looking through new clause 2 during the hon. Member for Bootle remarks, my eagle eye spotted what I think is an error. Although subsection (1)(a) of the new clause would do what is intended—that the first regulations to be made under clause 9 will be subject to the provisions of the new clause—the explanatory statement and the points made in his speech suggest that subsection (1)(b) should relate to instances where there has been a lowering of import duties. In fact, as currently drafted, subsection (1)(b) refers to

“the effect of which is an increase in the amount of import duty”.

I can only imagine that that is a drafting error or has been lifted from new clause 1, which does refer to the increase in import duties. However, I fully understand what the hon. Gentleman intended, and I will deal with new clause 2 on the basis of its intention and of the way in which he describes it in the explanatory statement.

The new clause would put in place an additional parliamentary process for regulations giving preferential import duty arrangements to other countries. As I previously set out, for indirect tax matters, it is common to have framework primary legislation supplemented by secondary legislation. The Bill introduces a comprehensive framework for a new stand-alone customs regime. It ensures that the scrutiny and procedures that apply to the exercise of each power are appropriate and proportionate, taking into account the technicality of the regulations, the frequency with which they are likely to be made and how quickly the law may need to be changed.

Clause 9 allows the Treasury to give effect to the tariff section of trade arrangements once they have been negotiated. It is therefore appropriate and proportionate for the negative procedure to apply. Any delays in implementing preferential duties in trade arrangements could have significant impacts on UK supply chains or exporters who rely on the arrangements. As set out in the trade White Paper the Government are considering how to ensure that the process for negotiating new trade deals is transparent, efficient and effective, and we will ensure that Parliament is engaged throughout.