News / Good Trade Campaign

Government commits to help the world's poorest countries post-Brexit

Post-Brexit, the UK government has committed to continuing to allow duty-free access to UK markets for some of the poorest countries in the world.

The UK government has announced that once the UK leaves the EU, it intends to continue to provide some of the poorest countries in the world with duty-free access to UK markets. Since the EU Referendum, development groups have been asking the government to ensure that developing countries will not lose out as a result of Brexit and to take steps to improve on current EU policy.

"The announcement that the government will continue the Everything But Arms scheme is very welcome," said Matt O'Grady, Policy and Advocacy Adviser for Traidcraft. "It means that import taxes will not be applied to goods from some of the poorest countries, improving their competitiveness. It’s a great first step in response to our campaign and provides much-needed reassurance for businesses and producers in developing countries who rely on exports to the UK to earn a living and work their way out of poverty."

"Tens of thousands of campaigners from many different charities have been calling for the Government to give a clear promise to farmers and workers in the world’s poorest countries on their future trade with the UK," said Tim Aldred, Head of Policy at the Fairtrade Foundation. "We are very pleased to hear today’s commitments to guarantee and strengthen the position of the least developed countries who provide such a high quantity of the goods sold in our supermarkets and high streets."

Crucially the government announcement contains a pledge to maintain and improve the market access offered to the next tier of countries, those covered by other initiatives including the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), GSP+ and Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). The details have yet to be announced but Traidcraft have already made some practical suggestions, including improving the range of products benefiting from tariff-free access, flexible rules of origin and more nuanced ways to identify the most vulnerable countries.

The government also reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that UK companies trade in ways that protect human rights and the health and safety of workers. As the UK develops trade policies for the 21st century, development groups want the UK government to ensure that commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Paris Climate Accord inform its approach.

Sources: commentary published by Traidcraft via the Bond network newsletter and Fairtrade Foundation.

Read more about Sustain's work on Brexit at: www.sustainweb.org/brexit

Published 10 Jul 2017

Good Trade Campaign: Campaigning for good trade that benefits people and the planet at home and overseas.

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