EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Lord Waverley

Lord Waverley

My Lords, after four fractious years we must expend only positive energy, work at our relationships and discourage the chimerical words “I told you so”. Our journey begins now, and we must make this work. However, while the Minister’s opening remarks did strike the right note, much needs to be done, such as a foreign and trade policy that impacts global Britain, which I hope we will have the opportunity to address in a debate in your Lordships’ Chamber quite shortly.

I offer six target objectives and five pointers for business. The objectives should include: a green trade strategy; a strategy which promotes nationwide economic opportunities and sustainable high-quality jobs; a fair and sustainable multilateral rules-based system and the promotion of responsible supply chains; capitalising on opportunities of the digital economy and promotion of digital rights; promotion of sustainable investment and finance that addresses the global trade finance gap; and a strategy that secures the confidence of stakeholders and the public through consultation and high levels of transparency and accountability.

Pointers for business include, first, safeguarding European supply chains in the UK’s springboard into the EU market, and avoiding heavy tariffs in areas such as rules of origin if importing from outside the EU and then exporting into the EU. Secondly, as service industries make up 80% of the economy and 50% of our EU trade, we must secure equivalence agreements in areas such as data, qualifications and financial services. Thirdly, more should be done to help SMEs to minimise the increased volume of cross-border red tape. We can learn from elsewhere: the use of blockchain technologies in Thailand has reduced trade costs by half by replacing old-fashioned systems with modern technology and the linking of systems. Fourthly, safe travel routes must be established across the continent. Advanced technology, testing and vaccine capability all exist but must be made less expensive and cumbersome. Fifthly, and lastly, it is strategically important that we focus on major bridge-building partnerships by capitalising on every opportunity: the G7, the G20 and COP 26 put us in a good place.