I have been contacted by a number of my constituents regarding post-Brexit trade and developing countries.
I believe that this is an important issue. As the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) make clear, international trade has an important role to play in sustainable development.
The UK purchases a large amount from developing countries and this trade is largely governed by EU deals. For example, 49 least developed countries currently enjoy duty-free, quota-free trade terms with the UK under the EU's "Everything But Arms" programme. In addition, many UK imports from developing countries are imported via other EU countries. It is therefore vital that the Government provide strong reassurances that it will maintain preferential arrangements for imports from the very poorest countries after we leave the EU. We do not want to see a dramatic fall in these countries' exports to the UK after Brexit.
The Government states that it is it is committed to ensuring that UK trade policy takes into account the ability of developing countries to reduce poverty through trade. However, while the Department for International Development states that it is looking at unilateral trade preferences for developing countries as we leave the EU, I am concerned that the Department for International Trade's trade agenda is focused on big business and deregulation. I therefore believe it is vital that the Government publish an international trade White Paper, setting out its plans for our future international trade, our negotiating principles and our trade policy objectives.
Fair and open trade is a powerful tool, which has helped pull hundreds of millions of people in developing countries out of poverty. However, I believe we need to make trade more inclusive to ensure that its benefits are shared equitably, not just among the rich, but also among developing countries. I therefore support trade deals that are based on just relationships and shared values, and which develop markets and raise income and standards in both developed and developing countries.