Liz Truss is Britain’s international trade secretary.
LONDON – After nearly 50 years, Britain is back to being an independent trading country.
This is an unrivaled opportunity to realize our vision of a Global UK, fostering an export and investment driven recovery by championing free and fair trade.
As stipulated by the British government on Tuesday at Integrated Review, a full assessment by the British government of its place in the world since the Cold War, we are determined to shape the future international order – a new era rich in jobs and opportunities for people in both developing and developed countries.
We are driven in this approach by our strong belief in the benefits of free trade, from lower prices to higher wages and productivity.
Free and fair trade is the best way forward for all of us. It is a force that has reduced poverty on a scale unprecedented in human history, igniting the spark for transformative innovation and bringing great prosperity.
But lately, confidence in free enterprise and free trade has wavered. Protectionist rhetoric and actions have escalated, and several countries have increased barriers to trade further during the pandemic, which Britain has completely rejected.
To restore support for free trade, we must make it fair and show that it provides things of public concern: better jobs, more prosperous communities, higher standards of living, a greener planet. We will do this by addressing practices ranging from state-sponsored forced labor to the degradation of environmental standards and the use of unreported industrial subsidies to gain trade benefits.
Now it’s time to turn the page. This year, Britain stepped in as G7 president and COP26 host to build a united allied front driven by common values and modern views.
Together, we will lead the responsibility for a more effective, modern and green World Trade Organization that keeps pace with the opportunities and challenges of modern trade. We have to hold the next ministerial conference under the Director General of the WTO Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as an opportunity to rebuild a better trading environment where everyone plays by the rules and the full benefits of trading are felt around the world.
We will work together to reshape global trade rules to reflect our core values: democracy, human rights and high standards across everything from environmental and labor rights to data flows and intellectual property.
British values-driven policies have had success in trade negotiations. We have reached a follow-up agreement covering 66 countries plus the European Union to secure £ 890 billion worth of trade. Our agreement with the European Union is the first block approved based on zero rates and zero quotas. It includes services and has strong measures for digital commerce. We have agreed to state-of-the-art terms for digital and data in our deal with Japan, and are pursuing ambitious agreements with the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
We intend to be at the heart of that action, which is why the UK is deepening trade with markets in the Indo-Pacific region – which will dominate the global economy by the end of this decade – and signed up to join 11 dynamic economies. as part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
It’s just like free trade that made Britain great in 19th century, we can be even bigger in 21st by becoming a global hub for digital commerce and services.
The Prime Minister has launched our new Office for Investments, demonstrating that the doors are truly open to potential investors in Global Britain. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has launched our first raft freeport, and I have launched a lower, simpler and greener UK Global Tariff regime.
As the Integrated Review states, Global Britain means local jobs – what I mean is that the opportunities we pursue abroad will support livelihoods across our country. Research last week released by the Department of International Trade estimated that 6.5 million local jobs were dependent on British exports.
By securing new opportunities abroad, business in all parts of the UK will be able to grow through exports, be it a Scotch whiskey refiner, a Welsh sheep farmer or an auto maker in the Midlands.
Trade and investment is also helping Britain play its strength as a science and technology superpower by securing high-quality jobs in the industries that will define our future through innovation and clean technology. From a factory in North Wales producing hundreds of millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed in the UK to British innovators in northern England building the UK’s first electric car battery “gigafactory”.
What’s good for Britain is good for the world. We help build back better by unleashing our full potential, creating new jobs, businesses and industries across the UK and beyond. This is Global Britain in action.