The UK is in the unique position of designing its trade policy from scratch. To be successful, it needs to have the public’s trust and support.
People will measure the success of trade policy decisions by how they impact our everyday life, rather than by export and other trade statistics. What products and services are available? What’s the quality of the products we buy? How safe are they? What choices can we make? How sustainable are they? How far does the pound in our pocket go? And what are our rights, particularly when things go wrong?
To help the government as it develops its approach, this paper sets out how the UK’s trade policy should truly deliver for consumers.
Which? wants to see the government take the opportunity to build on the UK’s world leading consumer rights and standards by pursuing an ambitious trade agenda for consumers in line with their needs and values including sustainable development.
The UK trade agenda must look after the carefully crafted rights and standards that reflect people’s expectations. We are consistently told how important food standards, animal welfare, data protection and the safety of consumer products are for consumer confidence. The agenda should also be ambitious for the consumer using trade to deliver tangible benefits for people in areas such as cross border rights when travelling, whether using their mobiles, facing flight disruption or accessing digital services.
Public support needs to be earned and maintained, and so the government must not only fight on behalf of UK consumers through its trade agenda, but also actively involve the public as it develops its priorities.
An open dialogue with people across the country is the only way to ensure the government develops a well-informed trade policy that takes account of people’s views and expectations and, in turn, earns their support.
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