Covid-19: Business Support

Tuesday 12th May 2020

(2 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Department for International Trade
Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab) - Hansard

16. What recent steps she has taken to support businesses trading internationally that are affected by the covid-19 pandemic. [902555]

Julie Elliott Portrait Julie Elliott (Sunderland Central) (Lab) - Hansard

17. What recent steps she has taken to support businesses trading internationally that are affected by the covid-19 pandemic. [902539]

Greg Hands Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Greg Hands) - Hansard

In response to covid-19, the Department continues to support UK businesses to trade. Office for National Statistics data states that 75.4% of businesses are continuing to trade.

Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft [V] - Hansard

For British companies that trade overseas, the one thing guaranteed to make a very bad situation even worse  would be the loss of free frictionless trade with the rest of the EU at the end of the year, so will the Minister reassure UK firms that the top priority when it comes to trade is securing the free trade agreement that we need with Europe?

Greg Hands Portrait Greg Hands - Hansard

Of course. The hon. Lady will have seen that the UK is continuing the negotiations, which the chief negotiator David Frost has been doing virtually. We have completed the first round and we look forward to getting the trade agreement that I believe is in the interests of both sides and which will bring relief to British business and others at this important time.

Julie Elliott Portrait Julie Elliott [V] - Hansard

In Sunderland and the wider north-east, lots of businesses—large, small and start-ups—rely on international supply chains as they trade internationally. What are the Government doing in these challenging times to ensure that international supply chains are protected?

Greg Hands Portrait Greg Hands - Hansard

The hon. Lady asks a good question. One important thing that we will learn from this crisis is the importance of the robustness of supply chains. Currently, most of the focus is obviously on medical supplies, but that will extend more broadly. We need to make sure that we have diverse sources of supply, that the supply chains that ensue are robust, and that we have choice and diversity in respect of where we procure our goods from.