Africa: Trade Negotiations

Tuesday 12th May 2020

(2 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Department for International Trade
Mr Laurence Robertson Portrait Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con) - Hansard

19. What recent progress her Department has made on trade negotiations with African countries. [902527]

Graham Stuart Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Trade (Graham Stuart) - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for his work as chair of the all-party group on Ethiopia and Djibouti. The UK has signed continuity trade agreements that secure our long-term trading relationship with 11 African countries, and a further 35 will benefit from our unilateral preferences scheme. We continue to work with our partners on arrangements for the remaining African countries covered by EU agreements, in a way that reflects the current economic and public health realities.

Mr Laurence Robertson Portrait Mr Robertson [V] - Hansard

I thank the Minister for that response. Does he agree that trade is the best way out of poverty for developing countries? Bringing that idea together with the fact that the United Kingdom is looking to forge trade agreements around the world would create a bigger benefit. Will the Minister do everything he possibly can to bring about strong trade agreements with African countries?

Graham Stuart Portrait Graham Stuart - Hansard

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: it is a win-win situation for the UK economy and those developing countries in Africa, and it is so important that we work together. To those considering seeking to put up barriers to foreign produce in our consideration of the Agriculture Bill tomorrow, I should say that not only would that breach the WTO’s global rules and hurt our good name in the international community, but it could also have the effect of restricting imports from developing countries, including those in Africa. Surely no one should wish for that.