Letter - Independent Trade by the Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade

Dear Colleague,

I am writing to update you on how the Government continues to develop its independent trade policy as we prepare to leave the EU.

Last week, I set out in an oral statement to the House the Government’s commitments to an inclusive and transparent trade policy – specifically how the Government intends to engage with Parliament, the Devolved Administrations, the public, business and civil society as we embark on new international trade agreements.

The details of our approach can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dit-approach-to-engagement-for-the-pre-negotiation-phase-of-trade-negotiations

I wanted to draw your attention, however, to some specific elements of our engagement and consultation approach:

  • I have committed to providing Parliament with the ability to inform and scrutinise new trade agreements in a timely and appropriate manner. For example, at the prenegotiations stage, Parliament will be given the opportunity to consider the level of ambition of the Government’s approach to negotiations and potential implications of any agreements. We will keep Parliament updated as negotiations progress and at the end of a negotiation, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 will continue to apply as it does to all treaties which are subject to ratification.


  • Consistent with past practice with any new international trade partners, the Government will also, at the appropriate time, publish an impact assessment. And finally, in order to implement a new trade agreement with a new partner, the Government will bring forward a bespoke piece of primary legislation, when required, for each new future trade agreement that requires changes to legislation and where there are no existing powers.


  • The Government will also work closely with the Devolved Administration on an ongoing basis to deliver an approach that works for the whole of the UK, in particular through a series of collaborative policy roundtables including with key stakeholders in all parts of the country, which will draw on their knowledge and expertise, recognising their role in helping to deliver the objectives of our trade policy and future negotiations


  • We will use thematic and sectoral groups of stakeholder experts to contribute to our policy development at a detailed technical level including running a range of stakeholder roundtables and outreach events across the whole of the UK. We will also convene a Strategic Trade Advisory Group to bring expert external insight to trade policy making from business, workers, consumers and NGOs. We are inviting expressions of interest for membership and will appoint 14 members, based on their technical expertise. Applications close on 17th August 2018.


  • We will also conduct a public consultation, lasting 14 weeks, ahead of every negotiation for a new agreement with a new partner.


Putting these principles into practice, last week the Government opened consultations on our intention to negotiate free trade agreements with the US, Australia and New Zealand. These are some of our closest strategic allies, but with whom we have no existing trade agreements.

We also want the UK to play a role in joining with other countries around the world to support rules-based and free trade, driving growth by increasing our economic ties with fast-growing regions. That is why we also launched a consultation on the Government’s intention to potentially seek accession o Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP).

The online consultation portal have gone live and anyone who wants to take part in the consultation will be able to find more details on https://consultations.trade.gov.uk

As we move towards negotiating new trade agreements, we will continue to engage with the broadest possible base of stakeholders to ensure an informed and well-evidenced approach to each of our trade negotiations.

Stakeholder input to date has been of great value in helping us to design an approach to engagement model that is inclusive and will allow input from across the whole of the UK, as we build a truly Global Britain with fair and open trade at its heart.

If you have any further queries then please get in touch with us at:


Yours sincerely,

Liam Fox