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Portsmouth MP demands assurances of human rights commitments in future trade deals

Stephen Morgan MP has demanded the government provides assurances it will not deviate from its human rights commitments in future trade deals, as it did this week on its promise of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance (ODA).

The Portsmouth representative was speaking in the House of Commons today during departmental international trade questions.

Since 1995, successive UK governments have believed in principle that all new trade treaties should contain “essential elements human rights clauses” making any treaty conditional on the commitments relating to human rights.

Despite this, the UK has recently begun trade negotiations for accession to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP is a trade agreement between 11 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam), covering 500 million people.

Meanwhile, the trade deal contains no clear, strong human rights protections, doing nothing to prevent Malaysia deporting more than 1,000 Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar in February.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“The government’s promises simply aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

“First its reneges on its minimum commitment for overseas aid, now its pushing ahead with striking trade deals with countries that have shocking human rights records.

“Trade with countries around the world will be crucial to our recovery from this crisis, but it cannot come at the cost of our core values. Government must ensure any future trade deals contain strong human rights protections and profit never comes before principle.”