Consumers 'left in the dark' about impact of post Brexit-trade deals

More than two-thirds of UK consumers feel left in the dark about the impact of post-Brexit trade deals on key issues such as food, data protection and environmental standards, according to Which?

The consumer watchdog surveyed 3,263 UK adults to establish how the public feels about post-Brexit trade negotiations and what consumers want to see prioritised in future trade deals.

They survey revealed that over two-thirds of respondents (67 per cent) felt the public receives too little information from the government around trade deals – with only 7 per cent saying they knew that the UK had a final deal agreed with Japan.

A quarter (27 per cent) of UK consumers said they felt the government was “not at all open” about the impact new trade deals will have.

These figures were highest in Northern Ireland with over half of Northern Irish (54 per cent) consumers saying the UK government was not at all open about the impact of trade deals on their nation.

Nearly two thirds of consumers (63 per cent) thought it was very important not to reduce data and digital protections in trade deals and nine in 10 consumers (87 per cent) felt all food imported should align with current UK domestic food standards.

Four in five consumers (80 per cent) agreed that the UK government’s trade policy should promote high environmental standards and not endorse signing deals that remove existing environmental protections.

There was also low confidence that the specific needs of devolved nations would be met.

Three in five (59 per cent) Northern Irish consumers, a third (32 per cent) of Welsh consumers and two in five (41 per cent) Scottish consumers reported feeling “not at all confident” that trade deals made by the UK government reflect the specific needs of their nation.

Which? has previously called for a consumer chapter in trade deals – which would cover key consumer priorities, such as maintaining food, data, environmental and online shopping protections.

More than half (59 per cent) were not confident the government would prioritise the environment in future negotiations – with a quarter (23 per cent) of consumers saying they were “not at all” confident.

The findings demonstrate the need for clearer communication from the government about how trade deals are negotiated and what these agreements will mean for people in the UK, according to Which?

The consumer watchdog recommended that the government should include a consumer chapter in future trade deals which provides a clear breakdown of how they will benefit the public.

Sue Davies, Which? head of consumer rights and food policy, said:
“The success of future agreements will be judged on what they deliver for ordinary people in their everyday lives, not just the export opportunities they provide.
“Our research shows that consumers feel they have been left in the dark about what trade deals will mean for them."

She added:“The government must take this opportunity to communicate transparently and openly with the public about trade negotiations and push for a consumer chapter to be included in future deals which reflects the issues that are most important to consumers.”

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