IoD calls on government to leverage business experience when implementing trade agreements

Responding to the Government’s consultation on the implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), the Institute of Directors calls on the government to leverage the real-world experience of civil society (including the business community) when implementing the TCA and future trade agreements. 

The TCA, which the government agreed with the EU in December 2020, is an important step on the way to normalising EU-UK relations post-Brexit. The treaty embeds a series of consultation mechanisms that take into account the views of civil society in the implementation of the TCA: 

  • Article 13 of the TCA states that each party must consult with Domestic Advisory Groups (DAGs), which will be either new or pre-existing, and fully representative of civil society, on all issues covered by the agreement.  
  • Article 14 of the TCA states that the Civil Society Forum (CSF) shall be open to participation by independent civil society organisations, including members of DAGs, and its purpose will be to conduct a dialogue on part two of the TCA: trade, fisheries, and other arrangements. 

Given their ability to leverage the experience of a diverse range of industries, companies and regions, the DAGs and CSF are well placed to inform government decision-making on the implementation of the TCA. The government must not miss this opportunity to realise the full potential of these stakeholder engagement mechanisms.  

Emma Rowland, Policy Advisor at the Institute of Directors, said: 

The post-Brexit trading landscape is continuing to shift globally for the UK. With sights set on the Trans-Pacific and South-East Asia for the future of free trade and enterprise, businesses can now take advantage of new and prosperous opportunities.  

To realise their full potential, civil society and business engagement mechanisms should be embedded into the decision-making framework of future trade agreements. The stakeholder advisory frameworks incorporated into the TCA provide a blueprint for the way in which stakeholder voices can be taken into account in future FTAs. 

The government should seek to capitalise on these new structures to take advantage of their ability to capture the needs of UK businesses. Strong mechanisms of communication between government and civil society are important for the effective implementation of these agreements.