The UK will not join a New Zealand-brokered trade pact to end fossil fuel subsidies, international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said.
She told MPs on the International Trade Select Committee that the UK doesn’t “have any intention” to sign up to the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS).
It comes as Trevelyan was also grilled by the committee on the UK-New Zealand trade deal, with the committee’s chair pointing out that the deal is far more beneficial for Kiwis than Brits.
The ACCTS was launched in 2019 and saw New Zealand, Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland agree to “eliminate fossil fuel subsidies” and remove tariffs on “environmental goods”.
Politico reports that ministers do not want to join the pact as it wants to use those tariffs as bargaining chips in future trade negotiations.
The UK’s decision not to join comes despite the government’s failed efforts to broker an agreement to scrap fossil fuel subsidies at the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow.
“We don’t have any intention to sign up [to ACCTS] at the moment,” she said.
Projections done by the Department for International Trade show the UK-New Zealand trade deal will likely add very little, or nothing at all, to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP).
They also showed New Zealand would get far more benefit from it thanks to its farmers getting access to British markets, after tariffs were slashed on things like New Zealand beef and lamb exports.
Westminster’s trade committee chair and Scottish National Party Angus MacNeil said the deal is “30 times better for the New Zealand economy than the UK economy”.
Trevelyan said: “It’s a fantastic trade deal on both sides as it opens up, in terms of liberalisation of goods, for both sides, which I think is really strong progress.
“When you talk about the numbers – how do we shift GDP – lots of trade deals will help increase existing trade and reduce barriers to entry in lots of areas, but any single trade deal in and of itself isn’t the big number shifter.”