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The UK government spent more than £46m on negotiating just two trade deals last year, it has been revealed.
Ministers shelled out £46.2m during 2022-23 securing and implementing new trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, according to a recent parliamentary written question.
Concerns have been raised over the expected benefit from the Australian and New Zealand deals, with some Brexit critics contrasting the expected values of the deals to that which would be achieved by full access to the EU single market.
The government itself admitted the Australia deal was only expected to add just 0.02 per cent – now uprated to 0.08 per cent – to the size of the UK economy over 15 years.
One manufacturing executive said that the deals represented “minimal benefit at best” and urged ministers to focus on offering tangible support to expand to new markets.
A spokesperson for The Department of Business and Trade said: “In 2022 we signed trade deals worth £1.1 trillion with some of the world’s biggest and fastest growing economies, which will boost our exports and cut costs for consumers.
“In the past year we have ratified our new trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, agreed membership of the hugely exciting CPTPP trade bloc in the Indo-Pacific, and progressed negotiations with India, the Gulf, Canada, Mexico, Israel and Switzerland,” they added.