UK will remain at vanguard of free trade, vows May

5 Sep 16

The UK will be a global leader in free trade once it leaves the European Union, Theresa May pledged as she started exploratory talks on trade deals at the G20 summit in China.

At her first major global conference as prime minister, May yesterday said she would “robustly champion” free trade following Brexit, while also underlining the need to do more to spread the benefits and build a fairer economy.

Acknowledging that more people are feeling left behind by globalisation, May insisted the answer “cannot be to retreat, turn to protectionism or abandon free trade”.

The UK would invest in skills, training and infrastructure, as well as developing a new industrial strategy, to ensure working people really benefit from the jobs and opportunities of trade, she stated.

“We are going to make a success of Brexit and one way we will do that is by playing to Britain’s strengths as a great trading nation and forging our own new trade deals around the world.

“We are building up the necessary expertise to go after these trade deals and here in China, I will be seizing the opportunity to talk to leaders from countries like Australia who have already made clear that they want to strike a deal once we have left the EU.”

May also revealed that the UK’s Department for International Trade was in discussions with Australia about sharing expertise in negotiating trade deals as well as a bilateral trade deal.

Australia has negotiated five free trade agreements in the last three years as well as the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership.

New Zealand and Canada are amongst other countries to have also offered the UK government their expertise, reflecting the support from countries around the world to make a success of Brexit. Later this month, one of New Zealand’s top trade negotiators will fly in to London to provide support for officials in the DIT.

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