A few days ago on the 20th November, three written questions that had been asked by a Sussex based MP raised an interesting response from Greg Hands who is the Minister of State for the Department of International Trade and MP for Chelsea and Fulham. His answer related to the questions regarding our trade arrangement with Japan. His response is that our trade output from the South East could raise by 0.07% as a result of the Japanese deal. This of course is a small amount, but perhaps it is an amount that the Government is getting confused with because they recently chose to cut our Foreign Aid donations from 0.7% to 0.5%. However most people know that 0.07% is a lot smaller than 0.7% and that even 0.7% is very small compared to the full amount which is why the cost of our 0.7% Foreign Aid is a very small element of what we do as a nation. So my question is that given that the Government has worked out that our trade deal with Japan could increase the South East output by 0.07% what is the amount that our departure from the EU with a No Trade Dale will reduce our output by, so that we can understand the position as we wait on the first day of December to find out what the result will be on the 31st December in around 30 days. We could also do with finding out if this trade deal will have any impact on the EU negotiations. Anyway here are the three questions that Andrew Griffith asked followed by the answer from Greg Hands. Given their similarities it is amazing that they were three separate questions as each question does cost money to be processed but that is another matter.
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade what steps her Department has taken to:
1. help ensure that businesses in Sussex
2. ensure that (a) farmers and (b) food producers in Sussex
3. ensure that SMEs in Sussex
can benefit from the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
So here is the response from Greg Hands
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) impact assessment shows that all parts of the United Kingdom could benefit from the CEPA. Output in the South East could increase by 0.07%, equivalent to £177 million in 2017 terms.
CEPA could benefit farmers and food producers in Sussex through lower tariffs than would have been the case without an agreement. It also allows more UK goods to access preferential tariffs than the EU-Japan Agreement, thanks to new rules of origin. New protections for more iconic South East products such as English sparkling wine or Kentish Ale goods may also be possible.
The CEPA contains a dedicated Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) chapter to ensure that SMEs are provided with the tools and resources necessary to seize the opportunities of exporting to Japan.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) works closely with all United Kingdom business and wider stakeholders to address their interests including through our Trade Advisory Groups. DIT’s International Trade Advisors are already engaging with SMEs in the South East about benefits and opportunities of this agreement.
I thought that the final paragraph is fascinating. As it happens the company I work in does not export to anywhere outside of the UK, and our importation comes about because most of the products we distribute and install for our clients come from the EU. However the concept that the DIT works closely with all UK businesses is a statement that makes no sense and I wonder why Ministers state such things, given that their words are published.