The Trade Bill, which was passed unamended on Monday 20 July, is a continuity Bill and cannot be used to implement new free trade agreements with countries such as the USA. Instead, the Trade Bill is designed to enable the free trade agreements that the EU signed with other countries prior to Brexit to be transitioned, for the UK's continued benefit.
The Government has always maintained that it will not compromise the UK’s high animal welfare, environmental, food safety and import standards. This was a clear commitment in our manifesto and the UK’s Food Standards Agency is an independent agency that regulates food standards and will continue to provide independent advice to ensure that all food imports comply with those high safety standards.
I know that my Ministerial colleagues have no intention of lowering standards in transitioned trade agreements, as the very purpose of these agreements is to replicate as close as possible the effects of existing commitments in EU agreements. None of the 20 continuity agreements signed have resulted in standards being lowered.
The EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions onto the UK statute book. This includes current import requirements, which for example ban the use of artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products, and stipulate that no products besides potable water are approved to decontaminate poultry carcasses.
There will be opportunities for both the public and Parliament to consider, contribute and scrutinise negotiations for future free trade agreements. In fact, public consultations have continued to be held prior to negotiations to inform the Government's approach. This includes a new Trade and Agriculture Commission, representing farmers, retailers and consumers from across the UK, and chaired by food safety expert Tim Smith, to advise the Government on how to seize export opportunities, while ensuring animal welfare and environmental standards in food production are not undermined. You can learn more about the commission and its scope here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/trade-and-agriculture-commission-membership-announced
The Department for International Trade regularly publishes it negotiating objectives on its website which you can monitor their website for updates on the progress: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade
Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP
Chesham and Amersham
Constituency Office 01494 721577
Westminster Office 0207 219 4061
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