Now that the UK has left the EU – and the Common Commercial Policy – it is legally able to forge new trading partnerships across the world. What does this mean for human rights conditionality in trade agreements? On the one hand, and despite public statements to the contrary, there is a risk that the current Government will abandon human rights conditionality altogether, in order to secure trade deals as easily and quickly as possible.
This is particularly the case given the political imperative for the Government to secure, and be seen to secure, FTAs before the end of the transition period (31st December 2020). On the other hand, there is a real opportunity to lead the way on human rights and improve on the EU regime. The UK must avoid the risk of making ‘quick and dirty’ trade deals but establish the ‘gold standard’ for human rights conditionality in trade agreements.
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