Key UK committee demands more time to review Australia-UK FTA as Boris Johnson resigns

July 11, 2022: A key parliamentary committee in the UK has urged the British government to extend the period of scrutiny on the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA), after ministers were accused of pushing it through parliament without proper inspection.

The request for more time to scrutinise the deal comes after the UK International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan triggered the 21-day ratification process before a trade committee had published its verdict on the deal. The Secretary began the countdown to ratification before she had given evidence to the trade committee, and before the MPs could publish their final report on the agreement.

The head of the trade committee, Angus MacNeil MP, said that that rushing the deal through parliament is “bad for scrutiny, bad for business, and bad for the country”.

Prior to Boris Johnson’s resignation, the trade committee had received an independent report from the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) confirming that the trade deal will lower environmental, food safety, and animal welfare standards. The ratification process is likely to continue.

In Australia, a review of the trade deal (signed in December 2021) by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) was interrupted by the election. The JSCOT inquiry will resume over 20 sitting days after parliament sits at the beginning of August. AFTINET has already made its submission to the committee, which can be viewed here.