Petition Hold referendums on joining new trade blocks eg CPTPP
We had two Referendums on membership of the EU trade block and it’s only fair and right that the people be asked if we are to join any more trade blocks.
The Government has applied to join CPTPP. The British people must have a say on whether to approve joining any trade block, including the CPTPP.
It has been reported that modelling by the Department for International Trade of CPTPP projected that if South Korea and Thailand join CPTPP there will be a 4.97% decrease in the value of the semi-processed food sector, making it by far and away the hardest-hit area. Agriculture would be the second-most affected sector, with a projected a -0.82% reduction in its value to the U.K. economy.
British citizens must be able to weigh up the pros/cons and decide if they want the UK to sign up to the CPTPP.
This response was given on 19 April 2023
The Government will not hold a referendum on the UK’s trade agreements. We ensure that parliamentarians, UK citizens and businesses have access to the information they need on trade negotiations.
Read the response in full
The Government will not be holding a referendum on the UK’s trade agreements. As the UK is a representative democracy, the public have their say on Government policy at general elections. At the last election in 2019, the Government received a mandate to increase trade and prosperity by striking new trade deals. Joining CPTPP (the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) is an example of one such deal. As a result, a specific referendum to ratify the UK’s membership of the CPTPP is not needed. Holding referendums for all decisions of this nature would not be in keeping with our constitutional arrangements as a representative democracy.
This Government is committed to transparency, and we have ensured, and will continue to ensure, that parliamentarians, UK citizens and businesses have access to the information they need on our trade negotiations.
We have ensured that all trade deals, including CPTPP, work for UK consumers, producers and companies. The Government stands firm in trade negotiations to ensure any future trade deals support the livelihoods of farmers and the values of consumers across the UK.
Consultation and scrutiny
For each of our negotiations, the Government has always sought appropriate mechanisms to consult industry and other interested parties to inform our position in negotiations and trade policy more broadly.
For CPTPP, as part of one of the largest consultation exercises run by the UK Government, we consulted with individuals, businesses, business associations, NGOs and public sector bodies on the UK potentially seeking accession to CPTPP.
We received almost 150,000 responses in relation to CPTPP. All points raised were analysed and continue to inform the government’s overall approach to our future trading relationship with CPTPP. The consultation summary is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/trade-with-thecomprehensive-and-progressive-agreement-for-trans-pacific-partnershipcptpp
The Government published comprehensive information at the start of talks, including our strategic approach and economic scoping assessment. These can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-approach-to-joining-the-comprehensive-and-progressive-agreement-for-trans-pacific-partnership-cptpp
Looking ahead, we have made a range of commitments to ensure Parliament has extensive time to scrutinise the agreements, including that there will be at least three months between publication of the agreement and the start of the formal scrutiny period, to allow select committees to produce reports and for Parliament to consider all relevant information.
The independent Trade and Agriculture Commission will review the agreement, and their report will be published.
Any legislation needed to implement the agreement will need to be passed by the UK Parliament. The treaty must be scrutinised by Parliament under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRaG). This requires that the Government lay the treaty before Parliament for 21 sitting days. If during that time the House of Commons passes a Motion against ratification, the Government cannot ratify the deal. In this event, the Government can choose to lay a statement in support of the agreement and re-start the 21 scrutiny days, effectively re-starting the process. This process means that MPs - the public’s elected representatives in Parliament - can scrutinise both the treaties themselves and the Government’s reasons for supporting each treaty in question.
Ministers will continue to give evidence to select committees, if asked to do so. We have also said that if a select committee requests a debate on an agreement, the Government will provide one subject to parliamentary time being available.
The petition compares a decision to join CPTPP to the decisions to join the European Community and leave the European Union, which were subject to referendums. However, these decisions are not comparable to joining CPTPP because of the difference in the nature and substance of the agreements. CPTPP is a high-standards trade bloc with one of the most dynamic trading areas in the world. As an agreement centred on facilitating trade between its members, it does not have a court, a parliament, a budget or any permanent staff, which the EU does. And unlike the EU all members keep the right to regulate in their national interest.
Impact on semi-processed food and agriculture sectors
The petition also specifically mentions modelling on the impacts to the semi-processed food and agriculture industries of other countries joining CPTPP in the future.
The UK will negotiate terms ensuring the best possible outcome for UK producers and consumers with any aspirant economy. As new members join, the UK will be able to benefit from its expansion and increased opportunities to trade, ultimately benefitting the UK economy. The results in the scoping assessment reflect an hypothetical deal, including a scenario where Thailand and South Korea accede to the trading bloc in the future.
A full impact assessment will be published on signature of the final deal.
Department for International Trade
At 100,000 signatures...
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