One year on from the National Trade Conversation, Which? reconvened some of the participants to see if their priorities on trade have shifted.
Since leaving the EU, the UK is on course to negotiate and sign a wide range of new trade agreements that could have a significant impact on consumers. These binding commitments impact the choices consumers can make, the prices they pay, and the protections they can expect–and cannot be easily changed.
Which? launched the original National Trade Conversation (NTC) in 2020 to better understand what matters most to people across the UK in trade deals. From these conversations four clear issues emerged as the overall priorities for most who took part from all four nations of the UK.
With the UK’s approach to trade now more advanced, Which? brought some participants from the NTC back together to restart the conversation. How might their views on trade have shifted over the course of the year? Do they have new priorities?
How aware are you of trade deals?
To better understand how aware consumers are of international trade, Which? conducted a survey with a nationally representative group of 3,263 consumers earlier this year.
How much do you feel you know about trade? We’d be interested to see how you’d respond to some of our survey questions:
ℹ️ Want to see the full survey results? Click or tap here to expand/collapse the charts.
“The research into trade opened my eyes greatly last year…”
While our survey found a low level of awareness of trade deals across the population – some 67% felt there was ‘too little’ information being provided by the government – the participants from the original National Trade Conversation still remained highly engaged with trade issues.
What’s more, the four priority areas which emerged from the original conversation were backed even more strongly this year. Maintaining food and consumer product standards – one of the strongest priorities from the original NTC – was described by participants as being of increased importance, in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another striking finding was the proportion of people who ranked maintaining environmental protection much more of a priority than last year, especially when trading with partners further away from the UK.
Regardless of their level of engagement with trade, we found consumers want the government to do more on their behalf. The research shows consumers want more information about trade deals, and to ensure their voices are heard in the form of consumer chapters. The inclusion of a consumer chapter in the UK-New Zealand deal is a positive step in this direction – it’s vital the UK continues to secure consumer chapters in it’s future trade deals, and uses these to advance consumer interests.
You can see more of what our participants shared in the full report.
What are your views on trade?
We’d like to hear your views as well. What information do you find useful to know about trade deals?
What could the government be doing to help you understand how trade deals might affect you? Do you support the idea of a consumer chapter represented in trade deals?