Emily Jones, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, co-produced a new report introducing a principle-based framework for UK trade.
The 'Trade for All' report outlines how the UK can lead the world on a race to the top on standards in trade, but only if there is a framework in place with clear objectives that enables all stakeholders to support the effort. Without setting these objectives, trade negotiators will miss opportunities, meaning the UK and potential trade partners could miss out on the socio-economic benefits that these agreements should encourage.
“As the UK government sets its new trade strategy, it has a unique opportunity to design policy that will help harness the opportunities of the digital economy, tackle climate change and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including sustainable post-Covid recovery" said Emily Jones.
The report says that all stakeholders, including businesses, unions, civil society and consumer groups, should be actively consulted at each stage of the negotiating process. It adds: “Parliament should be extensively involved to provide democratic oversight, agreeing to a mandate ahead of negotiations and a debate and a vote prior to ratification with the devolved administrations formally involved as every stage.”
The nine objectives for UK trade policy outlined in the report are to:
- Promote a fair and sustainable rules-based mulitlateral trading system
- Secure high-quality jobs in all parts of the UK
- Address regional inequalities and ‘level up’ left behind areas
- Support the environment, including the protection of biodiversity and reducing waste
- Promote and enforce International Labour Organisation standards on workers’ rights and protections for consumers
- Promote the effective regulation of data and new digital technologies
- Foster sustainable investment and finance
- Protect public services and make sure all countries have access to affordable medicines - including Covid-19 vaccines
- Support the creation of skills and good jobs in developing economies, including the provision of effective export access to the UK market.
The report is published ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, and is accompanied by a letter to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss signed by 11 organisations, including the International Chamber of Commerce, Trades Union Congress and Which? urging the government to set clear objectives on jobs, inequality and the environment. The coalition also comprises the Confederation of British Industry, the Trade Justice Movement, National Farmers Union, Greener UK, the Federation of Small Businesses, Make UK, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.