Economic benefits to Britain from trade deals struck following Brexit are “extremely uncertain”, a cross-party committee of UK lawmakers concluded in a report published Friday.
The warning by the Public Accounts Committee comes as Britain next week holds talks with the United States as it looks to secure a trade deal with the world’s biggest economy.
London has negotiated a host of international trade deals with other nations since formally leaving the European Union at the start of last year.
However, the committee cast doubt on the government’s goal of having 80 percent of the UK’s trade covered by free-trade deals by the end of 2022.
A deal with the US would contribute almost one-quarter of that target, it said.
The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “pursuing a state-by-state approach to allow the UK to trade more at a state level with large economies such as California”.
At the same time it called for “clearer and more complete information to parliament and the public to improve transparency, communications and understanding of trade agreements”.
The report concluded that there “is no guarantee that the agreements will deliver actual economic benefits” unless the Department for International Trade “provides vital support to help businesses use the agreements, particularly for smaller” ones.
“The Department needs to ensure that its approach to trade has coherence and that there is sufficient clarity about how the government is making trade-offs across different policy areas, such as agriculture, the environment and human rights,” the Committee added.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Britain’s International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan will hold discussions in Baltimore on Monday and Tuesday — and in the UK in the coming weeks.
The dialogues “will explore how the United States and the United Kingdom can collaborate to advance mutual international trade priorities rooted in our shared values”, the British government said in a statement this week.
Annual trade between the close allies stands at around £200 billion ($263 billion, 238 billion euros).