A new report from the UK's Department of International Trade has revealed some of the public's thoughts about trade deals and what the country's priorities should be moving forward, with human rights and food standards high on the agenda.
The fifth edition of the research found that support for free trade agreements (FTAs) has fallen slightly compared with last year, which may reflect concerns over the current economic situation. However, the majority of respondents (65 percent) still favor signing new deals with nations outside the EU.
When it comes to where the UK should be looking for new trade deals, the issue of human rights was a concern for one in three UK citizens (36 percent), who stated they believe the country should only make deals with like-minded countries, while 22 percent took the opposite view.
The highest levels of support were for deals with the US and New Zealand, at 57 percent and 62 percent respectively. While the UK did complete an FTA with New Zealand earlier this year, prospects for any progress on a UK-US deal look dim for the foreseeable future.
Elsewhere, only 30 percent of respondents favored a deal with China, which was a slight decline compared with last year. Meanwhile, deals with Middle Eastern countries were only looked on positively by a minority, with 29 percent supporting an FTA with the UAE and just a quarter (26 percent) with Saudi Arabia.
Protecting human rights and equality was named as the highest priority consideration for any future trading arrangements with these countries. By contrast, maintaining food standards was the number one issue for trade agreements with the US, Mexico and India.
Overall, around a third of respondents (35 percent) expect the UK economy to get worse in the coming years, with just 26 percent expecting it to perform better than at present. Meanwhile, almost half of those surveyed (49 percent) believe an increase in free trade would lead to more jobs in the UK, while 32 percent thought this would help boost wages.