Eluned Morgan AM, Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language
On the 12 March the National Assembly for Wales voted to give its consent to the UK Trade Bill. Some of the provisions within the Trade Bill relate to the establishment of the Trade Remedies Authority, a new arm’s length body which will investigate complaints of unfair trading practices and unforeseen surges in imports that cause injury to UK industry. Although matters relating to the Trade Remedies Authority are not within competence of the Welsh Assembly, I agreed to provide members with an update on the Authority and how it will operate once established.
Currently, complaints of unfair trade practices or unforeseen surges in imports are investigated by the European Commission (DG Trade), and any trade remedy measures are applied at an EU-wide level. The Trade Remedies Authority will essentially take over this role at a UK-wide level, acting as a new non-departmental public body, investigating complaints and making recommendations where further action is required.
Because the Trade Remedies Authority will act as an independent body there is a limit on the amount of involvement Welsh Government can expect to have in its running. However, the Trade Remedies Authority is intended to act in the interests of the UK as a whole and we have obtained a number of non-legislative commitments from the UK government on how we will be able to interact with the Authority and where devolved administrations can be involved in the investigations process.
Most importantly we will be able to act as contributors in any cases the Trade Remedies Authority is investigating. This will allow us to remain aware of any actions the Trade Remedies Authority is taking. Overall, I am pleased with the progress that has been made and the commitments that the UK government has provided. The outcome of these commitments are detailed below:
- The Department for International Trade will advise the Welsh Government when an investigation is opened by the Trade Remedies Authority.
- The Welsh Government will be able to register our interest with the Trade Remedies Authority and then become a contributor.
- As a contributor, the Welsh Government will be invited to submit relevant information which the Trade Remedies Authority will be obliged to take into account.
- As a contributor, the Welsh Government will also be notified of any actions the Trade Remedies Authority has taken.
- The Secretary of State will consult the Welsh Government of the Trade Remedies Authority’s recommendations at the same time as consulting government departments and the Welsh Government will be able to make representations on public interest questions to the Secretary of State, alongside UK government departments.
- The Trade Remedies Authority’s annual report will be shared with the Welsh Government once it has been received by the Department for International Trade’s Secretary of State so that it can be laid before the National Assembly at the same time as the Secretary of State lays it in Parliament.
- The Secretary of State will seek suggestions from Welsh Government on the optimal way of recruiting non-executive members with relevant knowledge skills and expertise.
The means of establishing the Trade Remedies Authority is the UK Trade Bill. Should the Trade Bill not have passed by the time we exit the European Union, the Department for International Trade have put in place a series of contingency measures, which will ensure a fully operational trade remedies system is in place, up until the point that the TRA is formally established and can take over this function.