The Crown Dependencies should be officially represented in international trade negotiations by designated officials going forward.

The call comes the UK Government’s Justice Committee after members cited ‘concerns’ over the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey’s recent experiences during the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) negotiations.

The CPTPP is an Asia-Pacific trade block made up of 11 countries which includes Australia, Mexico and Japan and represents the UK’s third post-Brexit new trade agreement.

The UK Government has said it is keen to join the block as membership would bring a ‘range of benefits,’ including lower trade barriers to an ‘increasingly significant’ global economic market.

The UK Government expects its membership of the block to kick-in during the second half of 2024, at which point the UK will be the first new member since the bloc was established in 2018 and the first country from Europe to join.

But in a new report entitled ‘The Constitutional Relationship with the Crown Dependencies’, the cross-party committee of MPs that make up the UK Government’s Justice Committee said there had been a ‘disappointing outcome’ for the islands in the CPTPP talks. It said: ‘All three Crown Dependencies had quite serious concerns about the Department for Business and Trade's approach to bringing them into CPTPP.

‘They told us there were “challenges in real-time communication throughout”, engagement had “fallen short of our expectations” and issues that arose “could have been ameliorated by more effective consultation/communication”.

‘The outcome of the negotiations—inclusion in the CPTPP for trade in goods from the outset, but not for services—was not the one that the Crown Dependencies, whose economies are service industry based, had hoped for.’

The report recommended that for future trade agreement negotiations the Crown Dependencies, Ministry of Justice and Department for Business and Trade should work together to identify a set of principles to guide effective engagement during the negotiation process.

During particularly time-pressured periods, the committee report recommended that there should be officials in the room acting as a ‘conduit’ for information to and from the Crown Dependencies in real time.

The CPTPP negotiation process, the report concluded, ‘provides lessons for how the Crown Dependencies could be more effectively involved in negotiations in the future’.

It added: ‘The UK Government’s aim for all future trade agreements should be for the Crown Dependencies to be covered by services, as well as goods chapters, from the outset.

‘Where this does not prove possible, extension mechanisms should routinely be sought.’