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Trading Opportunities

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 8 September 2016

We will continue to be a powerful advocate for free trade by playing to Britain’s strengths as a trading nation and forging our own new trade deals around the world. Fifty-six per cent. of our export value and two thirds of inward investment projects are with non-EU countries. My Department has the experience and expertise in trading outside the EU to grow our significance as a global trading nation even further.

In order to maximise the benefits of leaving the EU, the Prime Minister has appointed three excellent Cabinet Ministers to run the Department for International Trade, the Foreign Office and the Department for Exiting the European Union. Can the Secretary of State assure us that the machinery exists to enable them to follow the example of their illustrious predecessors by adopting the mantra “All for one and one for all”?

That is a difficult one! I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his question. I am reticent about indulging in personality politics but I am glad to see that he was as able to read the August press as I was. When it comes to our commitment to delivering on Brexit, he can be in no doubt that we will be working together as a tight team to ensure that that happens as soon as we can achieve it on behalf of our country, having made all the necessary preparations.

I am sure we all remember Tony Benn’s adage that it is not about personalities but about the issues.

12. Can manufacturing companies in my constituency, such as Jaguar Land Rover, have some clarity on whether the Secretary of State expects the UK to revert to the World Trade Organisation default tariffs after leaving the European Union? We need some answers. (906165)

My team will be placing a great deal of emphasis on looking at our relationship with the WTO and where we exist on the current EU schedules.

On 24 November, I am hosting an exporters summit for businesses in the M11 area. I thank officials in the Department for their fantastic support. Given the importance of winning new trade opportunities, does the Secretary of State agree that all Members have the chance to play their part in ensuring that more British firms export to not only Europe, but the whole world?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his personal commitment to trade and the practical way in which he is demonstrating it. He makes a useful point. All of us should encourage businesses in our constituencies to export. In a nation that built itself upon free trade, it is disappointing that only 11% of businesses export. I hope that my Department will help all Members improve that position and create the expertise required to get all parts of the United Kingdom exporting to all parts of the globe.

Will the Secretary of State explain to our European partners the huge benefit to their industries of car and truck sales to the UK and ensure that there are no obstacles to our own vehicle makers selling to the EU? While he is at it, will he persuade other Departments to behave like their European counterparts and support domestic industry and buy British?

On the latter point, the GREAT campaign has been moved to the Department for International Trade and I am keen for it to encourage people in this country to buy British where possible. He makes an important point about the wider negotiations in that the European Union has a huge trade surplus with the United Kingdom. It is more in their interest than ours—if that is possible—to maintain an open, free-trading environment.

Currently, 21 trade envoys deal with about 50 markets around the world, yet with the huge opportunities available post-Brexit, does my right hon. Friend agree that it may be wise to look at boosting both the number of trade envoys and the resources available to our people on the ground overseas?

The programme of prime ministerial trade envoys set up by the previous Prime Minister has been extremely successful and has delivered notable results given the resources initially allocated to it. The Department and No. 10 are looking at how we can improve on the success of that programme, which will depend upon the distribution of DIT’s staff overseas. I hope to make an announcement about that programme in the near future.