David Caffall, Tony Burke and others: The trade bill must work for British industry and workers

Sir, In the Queen’s Speech the government committed to a trade bill in order to “cement the UK’s leading role as a great, global trading nation, whilst ensuring UK businesses are protected from unfair trading practices”.

It is refreshing that the government has committed to the need to address unfair trade practices. In the past, the UK government has often been highly resistant to EU anti-dumping duties. Ministers and officials have mistakenly conflated protection with protectionism. The World Trade Organisation’s rules allow members to take action against unfair activities by trading partners, such as subsidised exports and predatory pricing, when domestic industry is damaged. These rules exist to protect genuine free trade, not hinder it.

We hope the inclusion of “trade remedies” within the trade bill marks a change in the government’s approach. Our organisations represent hundreds of UK manufacturing businesses and hundreds of thousands of workers and are calling for strong post-Brexit trade remedies. The trade bill must establish a system that fully alleviates any injury to UK manufacturing caused by dumping, and it must be supported by the appropriate government infrastructure.

The congested parliamentary timetable means there may only be one chance to pass the trade bill, and the hung parliament means it must command cross-party support. Therefore it’s imperative that the voice of valued manufacturing businesses and their employees is heard by the government and all parliamentarians. The trade bill must work for British industry and workers.

Tony Burke, Unite the Union

Dave Dalton, British Glass

Steve Elliott, Chemical Industries Association

Andrew Large, Confederation of Paper Industries

David Caffall, Agricultural Industries Confederation

Dr Laura Cohen, British Ceramic Confederation

Roy Rickhuss, Community

Jude Brimble, GMB

Dr Richard Leese, Mineral Products Association

Gareth Stace, UK Steel