Claire Christian MHK says politicians need to be involved at the early stages of trade deals.

She was attending a workshop in Westminster, London, along with other representatives of the Commonwealth countries.

The workshop was held by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

Mrs Christian talked to former trade negotiators and specialists, committee experts and representatives of national and international organisations.

She said: ‘Attending the CPA trade workshop provided opportunities to gain insight and understanding surrounding trade deals.

‘I observed a general consensus among delegates that there was plenty of executive involvement in trade deals but not legislative.

‘Politicians need to be involved at the early stages in shaping the initial offer of all trade deals.’

Also explored at the event by the Trade Union Congress were workers’ rights, fair labour standards, how trade deals can result in lower levels of protection and how lowering tariffs can risks jobs and undermines domestic industry.

Mrs Christian was there in my capacity of Chair of the Economic Policy Review Committee.

She said: ‘While I am by no means an expert in the dark art of negotiating trade deals, I do now have a better understanding of where to start and whom to ask for advice.

‘Making independent academic contacts through the CPA will be advantageous to support challenge of the executive.’

The Douglas South MHK has called for the Isle of Man to focus on its financial services and trading within the Commonwealth for the time being, due to the ‘prohibitive costs of transport’.

Mrs Christian said: ‘Leveraging digital and intra-Commonwealth trade are ways we can achieve economic growth, build existing relations and help Isle of Man businesses to take advantage of opportunities arising from a global trade agenda.

‘Essentially, what this would mean for the island is good trade deals and creating more jobs while protecting local interests, something that the economic strategy is striving for.’