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Will Trade be Truss-ed up?

06 September 2022

By Emily Chen


Liz Truss, former International Trade Secretary and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, is now Prime Minister. It is expected that her overarching trade policy will build on her previous achievements. Some of her decisions during her previous cabinet positions, particularly tabling legislation that would empower ministers to suspend parts of the protocol, have been very contentious.  

The immediate priorities for the new Secretary of State will be to finish off what Truss started and was continued by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who in recent weeks travelled to Australia and other countries to finalise negotiations and keep the Global Britain plates spinning. But there will be a mountain to climb with the Australian and New Zealand Trade Deals yet to be ratified by the end of the year and several other deals to be progressed including CPTPP and India. 

On the free-trade agreement with India, the fifth round of talks concluded in July this year, and a draft treaty has been composed. It is expected that this will be finalised by the end of October 2022. Similarly, momentum has been building for a potential Trade Committee meeting with CPTPP. There is an International Trade Committee meeting examining potential benefits of joining the CPTPP taking place tomorrow. Considering Truss’ brand of diplomacy being to create new alliances through trade agreements, there is a lot of pressure on these pending agreements...  

What may be a bigger challenge, is ensuring more traditional allies are kept on side. Resolving the complex Northern Ireland situation without antagonising the EU or the USA will be the key test of this. Whilst Foreign Secretary, Truss tabled legislation that would unilaterally remove checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – The Second Reading of the Bill is due to be held in the House of Lords in the coming weeks. The EU Commission warned that implementing this statute would constitute a breach of international law. Further, US President Biden warned that he felt ‘very strongly’ about the Protocol, so much so that endangering the Good Friday Agreement by doing this could warrant US retaliation.