Government Procurement Agreement
2 The GPA is a plurilateral agreement within the framework of the WTO to mutually open government procurement markets among its parties. The GPA is comprised of two parts (a) the text of the Agreement and (b) parties’ market access schedules of commitments.
3 The text of the Agreement establishes rules requiring open, fair and transparent conditions of competition in government procurement. These rules do not automatically apply to all procurement activities of each party. Rather, the coverage schedules (called Annexes) play a critical role in determining whether a procurement activity is covered by the Agreement or not. Only those procurement activities that are carried out by covered entities purchasing listed goods, services or construction services of a value exceeding specified threshold values are covered by the Agreement.
4 The UK currently participates in the GPA through its membership of the EU. The Trade Bill provides a power for the UK to implement the GPA obligations as an independent member.
International Trade Agreements – Maintaining Existing Trade Arrangements with other Countries
5 The UK currently enters into commitments in international trade agreements as a member of the European Union (EU). As a member of the EU, the UK has been party to the EU’s trade agreements with third countries. The Government has committed to providing continuity in the UK’s existing trade and investment relationships with these third countries. We are already discussing how best to replicate as closely as possible the effects of these trade agreements. The Government has termed this process ‘transitional adoption’.
6 This work needs to be completed before the UK leaves the EU, if there is to be continuity in the UK’s existing trade and investment relationships with these partner countries when we have left the EU. In light of this, the Trade Bill will provide the UK Government with the powers to make any changes to domestic legislation that are necessary to ensure these agreements, once signed by both parties, are fully implemented and can be ratified.
Trade Remedies Authority
7 Trade remedy measures protect domestic industries from injury caused by dumped, subsidised or surges of imports. Investigations, decisions and monitoring of trade remedy measures are performed by the European Commission on behalf of all Member States. Once the UK is no longer part of the EU and has an independent trade policy, UK companies will no longer be able to make a request to the European Commission to investigate claims of dumping or subsidy in the UK. To ensure that UK companies continue to have access to a trade remedies system, the provisions of the Trade Bill will allow the establishment of a new TRA to carry out investigations, and impose and enforce trade remedy measures.
8 The Bill provides for the establishment of the TRA, a new Non-Departmental Public Body. More details about the composition and responsibilities of the TRA are set out in Schedule 4. The TRA’s functions in relation to trade remedy cases will be conferred by provisions in a separate Bill.
9 The measures in the Bill will allow the TRA to provide advice, support and assistance to the Secretary of State, so that the Government can fulfil its obligations relating to decisions on a number of areas including in relation to trade remedies and international trade disputes. It also allows the TRA to provide advice, support and assistance to other organisations on its own initiative.
10 The implementation of trade remedy measures will be taken forward via the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill, this impacts upon the financial privilege of the House of Commons.
11 The measures in the Trade Bill will allow HMRC to collect data on behalf of the government to confirm the number of exporters of goods and services in the UK and to be able to identify those exporters for trade promotion purposes. The Trade will also allow HMRC to share data with other public and private bodies as necessary, (so that those bodies can fulfil their public functions related to trade after the UK leaves the EU. This power will provide access to information which the Government and the TRA need to carry out functions that were previously carried out by the European Commission and so the Government can design and monitor trade policy, including conducting trade disputes and the TRA can apply trade remedies. HMRC legislation will allow for HMRC to share data with departments when it is related to a customs duty purpose only. The Trade Bill includes powers to share data, when needed, with international organisations that oversee the world trade system (for example the World Trade Organization). There are measures in the Trade Bill to safeguard and protect appropriate use of the data.