Westminster View

The UK being able to make trade deals is certainly one of the most important aspects of us leaving the European Union.

My job as trade policy minister is to make sure we can enter into those agreements to boost trade as we move away from EU membership and also ensure we can quickly incorporate the 40 trade agreements with 70 countries that exist within our EU membership and change them into new bilateral deals.

There is a massive appetite across the world to trade with the UK. We have world leading goods and services other countries want and the reception I have received as I have travelled around the world, and from representatives of the many countries who have visited me in London, has been remarkable.

Some of the trade figures we have are already very impressive with countries like the US and Japan.

With regards to the US, the numbers are enormous. We have two-way trade in goods and services of over £175 billion annually, with each of us being the other’s largest single supplier of services and a top supplier of goods.

We are also both each other’s largest source of foreign investment with nearly £1 trillion invested in each other’s economies.

It’s clear we must strengthen those ties with big economies, like the US, but also seek out more growing and increasingly important markets too and much work is taking place right now to make this happen.

Recently, I was in Taiwan to talk to their trade representatives and, again, I received a warm welcome from a country very much wanting to do business with us. Taiwan has recently allowed the first imports of quality British pork and when I was there I was able to sign a joint commitment to further fintech sectors between the two countries.

I also met with UK businesses in Taiwan including the offshore wind, financial services and pharmaceutical sectors in what is the UK’s eighth largest trading partner in the Asia Pacific region with £5.5 billion of bilateral trade in 2017.

I give these figures not to impress but to show just what a firm foundation we have in many markets big and small and how these markets want to trade with us post-Brexit.

Of course, there will be challenges, but the UK is very well placed to make the best of global trade and in a strong position to broker trade agreements quickly.

And the work continues. My Department for International Trade is preparing for possible negotiations as the Government considers seeking accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) after we leave the EU.

The CPTPP is a signed, but not yet in force, trade agreement between 11 countries including Canada, Australia, Mexico and Japan.

We want to hear the views of members of the public, businesses, trade experts and any other interested organisations on the CPTPP through a consultation that is open until 26 October.

Not too much of this work makes the newspapers and very rarely the headlines, but it is happening, it is positive and it will make a big difference.

Anyone who has thoughts about the CPTPP can give them at this link https://consultations.trade.gov.uk/policy/consultation-on-uk-accession-to-the-cptpp