EPPA Senior Adviser Sharon Leclercq-Spooner together with other trade negotiation experts from London, Geneva and Brussels highlight the importance of good governance processes in post Brexit UK in a letter that was the subject of a widely commented article by the Europe Editor of The Telegraph, Peter Foster. (Peter Foster has since moved to the Financial Times.)
Article by Peter Foster: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/11/27/boris-johnsons-arbitrary-brexit-deadline-setting-will-damage/
Letter published in the Telegraph on 27 November 2019.
Free trade future
SIR – Through Brexit and the election, trade has come to the forefront of the national conversation. As trade professionals we welcome public debate but fear the supplanting of fact with rhetoric.
The UK will likely soon reach the crucial stage of trying to establish its future economic relationship with the European Union and begin Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks with numerous other trading partners.
Therefore we call on all political parties to commit themselves to three things. First, to focus on content, not timing. Engines are being revved to strike FTAs by arbitrary deadlines, with little sense of what we want to achieve. Britain must carefully define its offensive and defensive interests for each negotiation, and their sequence, if these FTAs are to benefit the economy.
Secondly, FTAs involve trade-offs that should be openly discussed. The Government and Parliament should conduct transparent consultations with the public, business, devolved administrations and wider civil society to help define negotiating priorities. Ensuring openness is essential to build public confidence, allay fears and ensure the Government delivers deals people want. There is little point negotiating a deal without knowing whether it will gain domestic approval.
Thirdly, a mechanism should be established to provide independent, trustworthy analysis. Just as the Office for Budget Responsibility provides independent analysis of public finances, so the public and Parliament must have an impartial assessment of trade policy proposals and performance.
If the UK wants to benefit from high quality trade deals and to lead on the global stage, a major shift in approach is required. It’s time to get serious.
Former Senior Adviser to the WTO Director-General
UK Director, European Centre for International Economy (ECIPE)
Former Senior Information Officer, WTO
Independent trade advisor, former trade negotiator for Australia
L. Alan Winters
Director, UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO)
International Customs and Trade Consultant
Senior Research Fellow, Centre for European Reform
Professor of Economics, UKTPO, University of Sussex
Head of EU and Trade Policy, Institute of Directors
Guy de Jonquières
Senior Fellow, ECIPE, former Financial Times World Trade Editor
Brexit Policy Manager, London First
Senior Advisor, EPPA