The UK’s decision to leave the European Union presented the UK, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories with unique opportunities and challenges. For the first time in over 40 years, the UK has been able to independently pursue trade agreements and with this has come a need for greater parliamentary oversight and scrutiny as partnerships are formed.
CPA UK organised a three-day workshop for parliamentarians from the Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies and Devolved Legislatures from 7 to 9 February in London.
Participating legislature from the Overseas Territories included Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and St. Helena. Legislators from the Crown Dependencies included Guernsey, Isle of Man and Jersey in addition to participation from the Welsh Senedd.
The major outputs of the Trade Workshop for participating legislators included:
- To strengthen understanding of trade policy as well as negotiations and development stages of international agreements.
- To explore mechanisms for parliamentary oversight of trade agreements and have enhanced technical skills to conduct effective scrutiny.
- To widen participants network of colleagues from the UK Parliament, as well as Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies and Devolved Legislatures, to share good practice on holding the executive to account.
To achieve these outputs, CPA UK designed three broader themes to cover the workshop: ‘knowledge building on trade, ‘the role of parliamentarians in trade’, and ‘scrutiny in practice’.
The first day of the workshop was based on knowledge building, where the delegates discussed and shared their experiences on subjects including the international trade landscape across commonwealth and the impact of Brexit on the UK and Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies and Devolved Nations. Parliamentarians also discussed and learnt about the international trade negotiation process, possibilities and challenges in the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies in relation to fisheries and trade. Participants also discussed the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the role of international trade in contributing to the achievement of the Goals.
On day two of the workshop, participating legislators shared their experiences and knowledge on parliamentary mechanisms for influence and impact on international trade agreements. Participants examined the ways in which parliamentarians are able to make their voices heard about governments’ approach to international trade and economic policy through focusing on cross-party working.
In addition to joining Prime Minister’s Questions live in the House of Commons and witnessing the proceedings of debates in House of Lords, the visiting delegates also participated in a specially designed practical workshop on reviewing free trade agreements which enabled them to get a deeper understanding of the key methods and processes used when analysing complex trade documents.
The third and final day of the workshop consisted of different sessions including treaty scrutiny mechanisms in the UK Parliament, research and evidence-based scrutiny processes and stakeholder consultation for inclusive trade policies.
At the end of the workshop participating legislators discussed the way forward and affirmed the CPA UK’s international trade focus in the light of future opportunities.
CPA UK looks forward to continuing to work with delegates, to strengthen the networks built and share learnings surrounding the effective scrutiny of trade policy.
To read the Trade Workshop's Final Report, click here.