Trade has brought many benefits for consumers, including greater choice and lower prices, within frameworks of regulation, rights and standards that are valued highly and are important for consumer confidence. The opportunity should be taken to deliver greater benefits for consumers, but without undermining these frameworks.
Standards and rights need to be decided by the UK, in line with people’s expectations and priorities. People in the UK need to determine the safety and standards regimes that underpin the food they eat and products they buy, rather than the UK regime adapting, or becoming a bi-product, of trade negotiations.
The fear that a desire to facilitate trade would put core consumer protections at risk was at the heart of the backlash against the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP). The UK must therefore ensure that it does not repeat this mistake as it approaches trade negotiations with the United States (US). Transparency and an open dialogue as negotiations progress are essential in order to ensure public acceptability and deliver tangible benefits for consumers.
The government needs to ensure that standards are maintained and ideally strengthened, choice of quality products is enhanced, consumer rights are promoted and that opportunities are taken to lower prices where these other three tests are met.
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