Holyrood Backs Green Call For Ethical Trade Deals 

Scotland should aim for a race to the top rather than the bottom when it comes to any future post-Brexit trade deals, according to Mark Ruskell MSP, Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens.

Following today's Holyrood debate on Scotland's International Policy Framework, MSPs from all parties except the Tories backed Mr Ruskell's amendment commending the Principles for Just Trade Deals published by the Trade Justice Scotland Coalition, which calls for trade deals to support rather than undermine human rights, labour and environmental standards.

Mark Ruskell MSP said:

"In an uncertain post-Brexit future we need to listen again to our citizen’s movements as global trade relationships between Scotland, the UK and the rest of world are recast in the years ahead. Scotland’s citizens and Scotland’s parliament must be engaged at a time when we face an unprecedented democratic deficit over UK trade deals that could erode hard won protections and rights.

"Take the recent CETA trade deal between the EU and Canada. A deal which is being hailed as a blueprint for future agreements yet one where democratic accountability in the UK has been woeful. There has been no meaningful statement or scrutiny on this deal at Westminster, no committee has sat down to try and understand the implications of the final agreement. There was no debate, there was no vote.

"The best way to detoxify these trade deals is to open them up to the light of scrutiny and debate. But we see a power grab at Westminster with the proposed Trade Bill transferring vast powers to individual ministers bypassing parliament and citizens.

"Scotland’s civic movements have shone a light on trade deals in recent years. The work of the Trade Justice Scotland Coalition demands our attention, and organisations from the STUC to Friends of the Earth and Global Justice Now have established the key Principles for Just Trade Deals.

"The principles state that deals have to be democratic, open to scrutiny and amendable. They should work in the public interest, and while the free trade of goods is in the public interest, public services and government regulations must be outside of deals. And trade must ultimately do good: a race to the top rather than the bottom in standards that protect our health, our rights and our environment alongside a trade system based on solidarity with the global south not competition.

"I hope tonight's vote in favour of the Principles for Just Trade Deals indicates that the Scottish Government understands that its ethical leadership must extend to trade."