It was good to receive assurances from the Minister this afternoon that the UK's free trade deals, including the proposed one with Australia, will not compromise existing trading arrangements with the European Union. This ensures a strong working relationship with our European friends, whilst also delivering on our manifesto commitment and I welcome the opportunity for the UK to make deals with established and expanding markets across the continent. The full contribution can be found below:
May I commend my right hon. Friend on the trade deals that have been secured so far? Can he confirm that all these trade deals and the proposed one with Australia will add value to the UK economy without compromising existing trading arrangements with high-value, mature markets such as the EU, which are crucial to exporters in my constituency?
My hon. Friend is right on that and he is right to highlight that this is not an either/or; this is not either we have trade with the EU or we have trade with non-EU trading partners. It is absolutely our objective, going back to the manifesto he and I were both elected on, to have 80% of UK trade to be covered by free trade agreements within three years. That includes the EU, but it also includes new trading partners. CPTPP represents 13% of GDP—that would rise to 16% when the UK joined- and it crosses four continents, including old friends such as Australia, Canada, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand, as well as growing markets such as Vietnam and Mexico, where there are great opportunities for us to sell more UK agricultural produce and other things into.