Channel Islands and Isle of Man need seat at trade negotiations, MPs say

The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man should be represented when the UK brokers international trade deals, ministers have been told.

The cross-party Justice Select Committee of MPs said the Crown Dependencies should have designated officials present at trade negotiations to represent their interests.

The three self-governing dependencies, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, are not part of the United Kingdom but the Government is responsible for their defence and international relations.

Since Brexit, this has meant UK ministers are responsible for negotiating trade policy on their behalf.

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Conservative MP Sir Bob Neill called for changes to how international trade deals are brokered (Belinda Jiao/PA)

Under the multi-national treaty, goods from the three dependencies were covered from the outset but not services as they had hoped for.

The group of MPs recommended both goods and services from the islands should be covered in future free trade agreements the UK signs.

While the committee said relations between the UK Government and Crown Dependencies were “generally good”, it recommended greater communication and consultation.

Sir Bob Neill, the Conservative chairman of the committee, said: “Representation of the interests of the Crown Dependencies in international relations is not optional, according to whether or not their interests are in line with those of the UK: it is the UK Government’s duty.

“In cases of conflict, the Ministry of Justice must endeavour to find a mechanism for representation which will faithfully present and serve the interests of both parties. Having the Crown Dependencies represented during negotiations by specifically designated officials would go some way towards addressing this issue.”

Sir Bob claimed the UK’s post-Brexit responsibilities for trade “affords a real and very significant opportunity to make the most of the economic relationship with the Crown Dependencies”.

He added: “We recommend that the Department for Business and Trade formally assesses their contribution to the UK’s offer in trade negotiations and how their economic role can be better and more strategically promoted to potential trading partners, including the possibility of including them in the strategic approaches to free trade agreements that it publishes.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We engaged very closely with the Crown Dependencies throughout the CPTPP negotiations and as a result of the coverage secured they will be able to trade goods freely with the potential to export their world-leading services in the future.

“We continue to work closely with them to understand what we can do to unlock trade barriers to create jobs, opportunities and drive growth.”

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