Working practices: one year on Contents

Appendix 2: Draft Concordat on scrutiny of Free Trade Agreements

We invite the Government to negotiate a concordat jointly with us and the International Trade Committee in the House of Commons. The draft concordat below lists commitments already made by the Government in relation to free trade agreements. We have also included in a box further below several recommendations which are either under discussion already or we have newly made in this report, and which we invite the Government to consider as part of this and any future concordat negotiations.

This Concordat sets out the commitments relating to transparency and scrutiny of free trade agreements62 and their negotiations, as agreed between the Lords’ International Agreements Committee (IAC), the Commons’ International Trade Committee (ITC) and the UK Government:

Opening of negotiations

During the negotiations

Conclusion of negotiations

Box 1: Proposals for further agreement64

  • It is important that Parliament is involved in close dialogue with the Government from the outset of the negotiations, as the Government recognised in its 2019 Command Paper Processes for making free trade agreements after the United Kingdom has left the European Union.65 The Government should therefore ensure that we have had the opportunity to scrutinise and report on draft negotiating objectives, so Parliament can inform a mandate before it is formally set.
  • Private briefings on individual negotiations and negotiation round updates should provide information about the obstacles and points of contention in the negotiations. We recognise that there will be areas of negotiations that are sensitive and confidential, but we believe that the principle of scrutiny by parliament is important and should be fully recognised. We are open to discussing arrangements to ensure confidentiality, consistent with a full commitment to parliamentary scrutiny.
  • There is a risk that implementing legislation could be passed before we have had the opportunity to report on an international agreement. The Government should provide an undertaking not to pass legislation implementing any international agreement subject to ratification under CRAG 2010 in advance of us reporting, save in exceptional circumstances, and with an explanation from the responsible Minister.

62 [Agreed definition of free trade agreements to which this concordat applies to be inserted]

63 This commitment is made by the FCDO in its ‘Treaties and MOUs: Guidance on Practice and Procedures’, 31 August 2021: [accessed 16 September 2021]

64 This list only covers points identified by our Committee and does not seek in any way to limit additional requests by the Commons’ International Trade Committee.

65 Department for International Trade, Process for making free trade agreements after the United Kingdom has left the European Union, CP 63 (February 2019): [accessed 16 September 2021]

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