The UK’s post-Brexit trade deals are not being utilised by businesses and the government has not engaged in enough consultation before signing them, according to an independent audit.
A report from the National Audit Office, an independent parliamentary spending watchdog, said “the speed and intensity of the negotiations … compresses the time available for analysis to support decision making, and for consultation with parliament, stakeholders and the wider public”.
The report also said that “data suggests” that UK business use of the free trade agrements signed “may be low”.
This was shown through the fact that the Department for International Trade (DIT) has been forced to increase spending on supporting exports from 19 per cent of its budget to 24 per cent of its budget.
The government has previously been criticised for agreeing to trade deals with Australia and New Zealand that will add little or nothing to the UK economy, according to analysis done by the DIT.
A DIT source said the government is “committed to combatting” reasons for British businesses not taking advantage of export opportunities post-Brexit, and that they largely come from people not knowing the extent of lowered trade barriers.
A government spokesperson said: “Through our new export strategy we will help businesses take full advantage of the opportunities that our independent trade strategy offers, boosting enterprise across the UK and helping to level up the country.”
The UK has signed 70 trade deals with non-EU countries post-Brexit, however the vast majority are agreements that are on the same terms as the EU had.
The government has signed fresh trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, along with the comprehensive free trade agreement brokered with the EU.