Brexit: pay attention to “British values” in negotiations with the Gulf countries

Brexit: watch out for “British values” in negotiations with Gulf countries


The UK's negotiations with the six Arab Gulf countries for a post-Brexit free trade deal 'must not compromise UK values', including on human rights and the environment, British MPs called for in a parliamentary report on Wednesday. 

The House Committee on International Trade raises concerns “about human rights and weak environmental standards and calls on the government to ensure that the values ​​and obligations of the United Kingdom are not compromised” by a future agreement, according to a press release.

British MPs are particularly concerned about “substantial and persistent violations (…) of the rights of women, the LGBTQ + community and labor rights”, continues this press release.

The United Kingdom has been negotiating all-out trade agreements since Brexit and launched negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at the end of 2021, which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.< /p>

The government had said it wanted to “liberalize trade with a growing market” while strengthening ties “with a region vital to our strategic interests”.

A trade agreement with the GCC “is of course an opportunity economic potential for the United Kingdom”, according to Angus Brendan MacNeil, chairman of the International Trade Committee, quoted in the press release.

The parliamentarians note in particular the potential benefits for the sectors of agribusiness, green technologies, renewable goods and financial services.

But such an agreement “will also define how we perceive ourselves as a society, how we are perceived in the world and whether we are willing to put our values ​​on human rights and the environment on the negotiating table,” Mr. MacNeil continued.

As part of his efforts to strengthen its trade relations outside the European Union since Brexit, London announced at the end of March the conclusion of an agreement to join the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Partnership (CPTPP) after 21 months of negotiations.

Since its effective exit from the European Union on January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom has notably concluded trade treaties with the EU and other European states, but also with more distant countries such as Australia, New Zealand or Singapore. Discussions are underway with India or Canada.

On the other hand, the long-awaited agreement with the United States is long overdue.