LEVELLING Up Secretary Michael Gove has been caught out sharing misleading trade figures, according to a fact-checking organisation.

Gove, who returned to the UK Government Cabinet following Rishi Sunak’s appointment as Prime Minister, shared a tweet on Wednesday that claimed new trade deals worth £800 billion had been signed with over 70 countries since 2016.

Tweeting a graphic, which included a Union flag background, Gove added: “It’s International Trade Week - and just to confirm - I don’t think people in this country have had enough of exports.”

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The tweet was shared by more than a dozen Tory MPs, including trade minister Kemi Badenoch and newly appointed parliamentary under secretary for the department Andrew Bowie, a Scottish Tory MP.

However, Full Fact said that Gove’s claim was misleading to imply the trade deals account for £800bn in “new” global trade - as that is the total value of trade with those countries, not the additional amount that can be attributed to the trade deals themselves.

The organisation added that most of these deals are “effectively mirror deals” the UK was party to as a member of the EU before Brexit.

Why is Gove’s claim that these trade deals are “new” false?

Full Fact confirmed with the Department for International Trade (DiT) that the UK has signed one trade deal with the EU and 71 deals with other non-EU countries, the vast majority of which the UK had a trade deal with prior to Brexit.

When the Brexit transition period ended those existing trade deals stopped applying to the UK and were replaced with these “new” deals, which are sometimes described as “rollover deals”.

In September, the BBC reported the UK signed 69 of these “rollover” deals with countries it had previously traded with under the terms of EU agreements.

Full Fact said: “So simply calling them ‘new free trade deals’ lacks some context.”

What about the Australia, New Zealand and Japan trade deals?

While the UK agreed entirely new trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, they are not yet in force. The Government estimates this will increase the size of the UK economy by between £200m and £500m in a year but has been criticised for excluding devolved nations from negotiations and for the impact on Scottish farmers.

The UK also signed a deal with Japan in 2020 which the UK Government claimed “maintains the benefits” of the EU-Japan trade deal but does include differences. However, the UK Trade Policy Observatory estimated the deal will result in no net gain compared to the EU-Japan deal.

Full Fact said: “Whether or not all the UK’s trade deals should be called ‘new’, it’s misleading to claim they account for ‘over £800bn worth of new global trade’.

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“This figure refers to the total value of trade (both imports and exports) in 2021 between the UK and the countries it has a trade deal with (71 non-EU countries, including those the UK has agreed both the rollover and entirely new deals with, and the EU), which DIT told Full Fact is worth approximately £816bn, based on figures published by the Office for National Statistics.

“So it’s not the amount of ‘new’ trade with these countries that has come about since 2016.”

David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project, said: "[£]800bn was the total trade under [free trade agreements], in which case this is in no way 'new global trade'.”

Gove and the Conservatives have been contacted for comment.