The Government is announcing today that it will make new legislation to improve the way the Government protects businesses from unfair international competition and unforeseen surges in imports.
This follows work by my department to assess whether our trade remedies framework gives us the tools we need.
One of the advantages of being an independent trading nation is that we can adapt our domestic rules to UK economic circumstances.
The independent Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) is a key part of the new framework to defend UK industry. It was set up with the power to investigate unfair trading practices and provide objective, independent, expert advice to Ministers.
The proposals I am announcing today maintain the TRA’s expert independent analytical and investigative role, while also giving Ministers greater power to look at wider public interest considerations and flexibility to make decisions that balance the interests of UK producers, importers and consumers.
More specifically, the updated framework will do the following.
- Require the TRA to notify Ministers before initiating new investigations.
- Provide Ministers with the power to request the TRA to reassess a recommendation to apply a trade remedy where there is justification to do so. For example, where there is new evidence which the TRA has not previously considered or to correct an error.
- Give Ministers the flexibility to apply an alternative remedy to that recommended by the TRA, where there is supporting evidence to do so, and it is in the public interest.
- Give the power to the TRA to provide alternative options within its recommendation to Ministers, where justified.
- Make the TRA’s assessment of the economic interest test (EIT) advisory so that the Ministers will still be able to apply measures if the TRA determines that the EIT is not met.
- Give Ministers the power to revoke trade remedy measures without the need for a TRA recommendation if retaining a measure is no longer in the public interest. Ministers may request that the TRA provide advice, support and assistance before deciding to revoke measures.
These reforms will require both primary and secondary legislation which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
These changes will enhance the flow of information between the TRA and the Government and allow Ministers to apply an alternative remedy from that recommended by the TRA. This will only be where justified and in line with the evidence provided, giving Ministers greater flexibility within the international framework.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords