Trade bodies, unions and NGOs agree post-Brexit trade framework

May 10, 2018

Press release: London 10th May 2018

Announced today at the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC) United Kingdom’s Annual General Meeting, ‘A Trade Governance Model That Works for Everyone’ will act as a practical framework for national and international policy makers to guide best practice and help governments deliver on global commitments. The framework will ensure trade policy is more inclusive, transparent and democratic and benefits all stakeholders.

The framework – supported by an informal alliance of organisations including the British Chambers of Commerce, Institute of Directors, Confederation of British Industry, WHICH?, EEF (The Manufacturers Organisation), Greener UK, Federation of Small Business, Institute of Export and International Trade, ICC United Kingdom, Trade Justice Movement, TUC, UNITE the Union and others – provides the UK with an opportunity to establish a robust, modern, democratic governance model to oversee trade policy, regardless of the form Brexit takes.

Chris Southworth, ICC United Kingdom’s Secretary General, says “It is clear that not enough people have felt the benefits of trade and that public trust in trade policy has collapsed. This governance model provides a real opportunity for the UK to set new world standards in trade policy, re-build trust and put in place a modern governance framework that works for everyone and has the necessary support from all the key institutions. It’s a ground-breaking piece of work that brings together an incredible alliance of organisations.”

The framework incorporates the following principles:

  • Consensus Building – consultation, multi-stakeholder forums, stakeholder representatives with negotiators and a mandate agreed by Parliament.

  • Transparency – evidence-based decision making, accessible information and a presumption of transparency for all negotiating texts.

  • Democratic Oversight – parliamentary committee to follow negotiations, guarantees debate and vote to ratify the deal, involvement of devolved administrations and legislatures and a fair, transparent dispute resolution mechanism.

  • Net Benefit for All – evaluation of agreements based on economic, environmental, social and sustainability priorities with credible mitigation plans in place.

Press Quotes

“Efforts to drive the transition to a more inclusive world economy must begin with a trade governance model that is itself inclusive. We are here to demonstrate our capacity and eagerness to help governments chart a new course for global trade policy-making that places inclusion at its heart.”
ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO

“The most successful trading countries around the world rely on deep relationships between business and government when it comes to developing, negotiating and testing trade agreements with partners across the globe. As the UK prepares to forge an independent approach to trade policy for the first time in decades, the UK Government must dramatically deepen its engagement with business on the practical and technical details that make all the difference to successful trade. We need a proper mechanism for testing ideas, so that our trade negotiators can learn from the businesses and communities that will be affected by the agreements they reach.

That’s why the British Chambers of Commerce has long called for a clear model for trade engagement that addresses the practical interests of business communities across the UK. We are pleased to support this shared call for a strong trade governance framework – which is essential as global trade continues to undergo constant and rapid change.”
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce

“The UK will need to forge an independent approach to trade policy for the first time in decades after Brexit, during a time in which the conditions of global trade continue to undergo constant and rapid change. Establishing a proper mechanism through which government can create policies in partnership with stakeholders is therefore extremely important. Industry needs a voice at this time because it has plenty to say which needs to be heard. Policies giving businesses and individuals exporting skills and the understanding of how global trade works should be at the heart of the UK’s future trade strategy."
Lesley Batchelor, Director General, Institute of Export and International Trade (IoE)

“Modern trade deals cover vast areas of public policy that would normally be reserved for Parliament – from food standards to working conditions to the provision of healthcare. It is therefore hugely important that UK trade policy includes strong mechanisms to ensure meaningful public and parliamentary scrutiny. A broad spectrum of voices must be heard if the UK is to achieve a truly 21st century approach. This is the only way we can ensure that UK trade policy supports commitments to uphold labour standards, environmental protections and human rights.”
Ruth Bergan, Coordinator, The Trade Justice Movement

“To make trade work for all we need a fundamental change of approach in trade policy. The first step must be to ensure transparency in the process and the involvement of all stakeholders, including the trade union movement. Unite is clear that we will work to ensure a trade policy that will lead to decent work, protection of our public services and opportunities for our members and the companies in which they work. The principles set out here are a positive step in building this type of trade policy.” 
Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, UNITE the Union

"Working people have had enough of dodgy trade deals that threaten our NHS, rights at work and consumer and environmental protections. And secret negotiations have undermined public trust. Future trade deals must be negotiated in the open, and unions, business and civil society should be involved right from the start. That’s the only way to ensure working people’s voices are heard.”
Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress (TUC)

“Trade with partners old and new is a fundamental catalyst to job creation and productivity across the United Kingdom. With the right strategy, it spreads prosperity across all regions, sectors and communities of our nation. As the UK builds a fresh trading future after Brexit, firms – especially the thousands of smaller, entrepreneurial firms breaking into new markets – will warmly welcome this effort from across civil society to set up a practical foundation for trade policy governance that is more open and robust.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General, Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

“Scottish Chambers of Commerce is at the forefront of promoting direct international business-to-business engagement to help boost exports, particularly among our SME base. We applaud ICC’s quest for a trade governance framework that aligns the private and public sectors in the common aim of reducing areas of friction and boosting international trade. Growing the volume of exports and the number of companies engaged not only increases the market but it drives productivity and innovation with increased exposure to technology, expertise and competition. SCC believes that economic openness must be a fundamental pillar of Government trade strategy, and that only through increasing business input into this strategy can we ensure that rules around high level trade governance and transparency will help rather than hinder the traffic of goods and services.”
Liz Cameron OBE, Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC)

"Trade can benefit consumers by offering an increased range of goods and services at more competitive prices but trade policy must be built on standards, choice and trust. As the UK develops its approach to post-Brexit trade the Government has an opportunity to set the gold standard in how to conduct trade deals using the principles from this framework which will help to build the trust of consumers. Consumers spend £100 billion per month in the UK economy and it is vital that, as well as delivering tangible benefits for consumers, trade policy maintains consumer confidence through establishing transparent and open processes."
Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? Chief Executive

“No one wants to see nature under threat, or environmental standards weakened, due to a weak approach to trade. We are far more likely to secure the outcomes we all want if we work together on putting the highest standards at the heart of our future trade deals. It is therefore hugely valuable if government can work with groups from across civil society to plot a more economically and environmentally thriving future.”
Ruth Chambers, Senior Parliamentary Affairs Associate at Greener UK

Read a 'Trade Governance Model That Works for Everyone' here.  


Chelsy Shipman
Press & Communications | ICC United Kingdom
+ 44 (0) 20 7377 4992 / / @iccwboUK

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