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Trade Promotion

Volume 518: debated on Tuesday 9 November 2010

5. What recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on his Department’s promotion of trade and industry. (22529)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is totally committed to the creation of a strong and open global economy, and we are working with Ministers and their Departments across Whitehall to this end. During visits overseas and in London, FCO Ministers are continually pressing the UK’s commercial interests. As we speak, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is leading a delegation of 50 business leaders to China.

The tectonic plates of the global economy are shifting from the west to the east, not to mention the resurgent economies of Africa. Fortunately, Britain is in a unique position to take advantage of this, given our location, our language, our culture and our legal system. Does my hon. Friend agree that to take full advantage of this change and to make Britain the gateway to the BRIC economies—Brazil, Russia, India and China—his Department has a critical role to play?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I agree with him entirely. Exports and an export-led recovery will play a key role in restoring Britain’s economic fortunes. That is why trade promotion is one of our top three priorities. It is also why my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has instructed our diplomats to focus relentlessly, along with UK Trade & Investment, on seeking out and securing new trade and investment opportunities.

I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I welcome the recent UKTI visit to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. May I press the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure that its base in the Kurdistan region is effective and that it makes it clear to everybody that that part of Iraq is well and truly open for business?

I agree entirely with the hon. Lady’s comments, and I will certainly ensure that what she says is implemented. She might be interested to know that UKTI was recently voted by its international peers the best trade promotion body in the developed world.