UK to unveil trade legislation this month

LONDON — Boris Johnson will bring forward crucial trade legislation in the coming days.

The Trade Bill — which will implement the existing EU trade deals that Britain has agreed to roll over, as well as measures to prevent dumping — will be introduced to parliament in late February, according to two government officials.

A previous trade bill was introduced by ex-Prime Minister Theresa May but failed to reach the statute book because her administration was toppled during the Brexit impasse.

It included plans for a Trade Remedies Authority to protect U.K. industries against dumping by other countries — imports of cheap goods made to lower standards, such as environmental or labour rules, or state-subsidized. “We are going to get that legislation through and ensure we stop dumping from countries like China,” a minister said. “The directorate is already set up in Reading and staffed.”

Britain has previously been protected by EU trade defense measures, most of which concern imports from China. Brussels hiked increases on Chinese steel tariffs in 2016 in an anti-dumping move. “Our defense rules will be largely based on EU rules but with a number of EU protections dropped because they do not apply to our industries,” the minister said.

The EU is concerned that Britain could import cheaper and lower standard products as part of its new trading regime in a bid to undercut the single market and become a major competitor on its border.

Asked whether the EU could rest assured that the U.K. would not be importing cheap Chinese products and undercutting its neighbours on manufactured goods, the minister added: “It is not about what the EU thinks — its about protecting our market.”

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