We must make British businesses exporting the norm, rather than the exception
Since entering the Department for International Trade last month, I have relished the opportunity to lead our work driving us forward as a sovereign trading nation.
As the world builds backs better from the pandemic, free and fair trade has a key role to play. We know that exporting businesses are more productive and pay higher wages. Businesses that choose to export their goods overseas are a fifth more productive than those that limit their market to the UK.
It is not just about looking abroad for opportunity, but also bringing it home to every region and nation. That is why this week's Global Investment Summit marked a crucial moment, in which we welcomed the world’s leading investors to without doubt the best place to invest on earth.
By helping them realise their ambitions, we will secure new jobs in the industries of the future across every region and nation of the UK. We are already home to world-class innovation, whether it is the hydrogen-powered buses being built in Northern Ireland to the electric cars that will soon be made at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland.
Such clean innovation is vital, all the more so as we prepare to welcome world leaders to Glasgow for the COP26 climate change summit. Investment has a big part to play in making it happen now and for the future – take the world’s largest offshore wind farm under construction off the east coast of Yorkshire.
Put simply, trade – and the investment it brings – means jobs and growth. That is why we struck deals with 68 nations so far covering £744bn in trade as of last year, a record number of agreements no other nation has been able to surpass.
One in seven businesses in Britain could export but do not
However, this is no time to be resting on our laurels. We are working flat out to finalise our agreement with Australia and are closing in on a gold standard deal with New Zealand. We are also preparing to launch our negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the largest trading areas in the world.
Each deal we strike is a potential tool for businesses to use in order to grow and succeed by selling more in the global marketplace.
I know we have vast untapped potential, as just one in 10 British businesses export. What’s more, one in seven businesses in Britain could export but do not. That is why we are working to encourage a change of culture so that exporting is no longer seen as the exception, but the norm.
We are opening doors into the world’s largest and fastest-growing markets for our exporters – and ensuring that our Free Trade Deals work for British business. Just last week, I met my Indian counterpart, Piyush Goyal, to prepare the ground for us to launch our negotiations for a free trade agreement.
As many doors as we might open to dynamic markets like India, we need businesses to seize those opportunities ahead. That is why we have an army of advisers up and down the country to support and inspire businesses to maximise their potential.
We will succeed as a sovereign trading nation by opening ourselves up to opportunity more than ever. We have seen waves of investment bring more jobs to our key industries, from life sciences and financial services to food and drink as well as advanced manufacturing. That is why we are working to open up more investment opportunities by pursuing advanced deals with Canada and Mexico, and have also just started consulting on our approach to negotiating a deal with our partners across the Gulf.
This is Global Britain in action: seizing a world of opportunity through trade while “levelling up” the country with jobs in the industries of the future. That is how my department will ensure we build back better, stronger and greener than ever.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan is Conservative MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, international trade secretary and president of the Board of Trade
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