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Work of the Department

Volume 667: debated on Wednesday 30 October 2019

I would like to update the House on the work of the Department for International Trade. It has:

Supported UK exports worth over £2 trillion since June 2016. Since the Department was established, UK exports have grown from £537 billion to £654 billion—an increase of 22%.

Sustained the UK’s place as Europe’s top destination for foreign direct investment since 2003. DIT has supported 3,118 individual investments in the UK, helping to create 120,000 new jobs between April 2017 to March 2019 and attracting more projects, new jobs and investment capital than any other European country.

Helped to realise the UK’s potential as the top destination for tech innovation and talent by attracting international investment. This has resulted in the announcement of billions of pounds of investment in the UK from leading technology companies, including £1 billion from software company VMware, £1.9 billion from software company Salesforce, and £150 million from IT service management company Markley Group.

Dismantled barriers and opened up markets to British businesses across the world. This included:

Securing an agreement with China to lift its long-standing ban on exports of beef from the UK, a landmark move for British producers that was estimated by industry experts at the time of the deal to be worth £250 million in the first five years alone;

Lifting a ban on British beef and lamb exports to Japan, allowing exports which at the time were estimated by industry experts to be worth £130 million over five years;

Lifting the ban on British pork exports to Taiwan in August 2018. This has contributed to £2.1 million of UK pork being exported to Taiwan in the first half of 2019 alone.

Securing changes to public procurement rules on early childhood vaccinations in Bulgaria, supporting the UK to win a procurement worth £35 million.

Kicked off detailed technical preparations to ensure that the UK is ready to have our own independent trade policy for the first time in 46 years. This means that now:

We are ready to take our independent seat at the WTO.

We have a trade remedies investigations directorate to ensure UK businesses are safeguarded from unfair trade practices.

We have established working groups and high-level trade dialogues with key trade partners including the United States, Australia, China, the Gulf Co-operation Council, India, Japan and New Zealand. We also continue to use other instruments such as joint trade reviews with countries including China, India and Brazil.

Delivered a series of consultations on new trade agreements with the United States, Australia and New Zealand, as well as potential accession to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. These attracted over 600,000 responses from businesses and civil society groups across the UK.

Launched a new export strategy further to raise exports to 35% as a proportion of UK GDP. This will build on the increase of exports from 27% of GDP to 30% of GDP since the Department was created. Created the Export Champion network, made up of over 1,000 export champions and advocates, to provide peer-to-peer support to businesses across the UK.

Shielded UK trade from 85% of the additional duties that would have been imposed, by securing 18 continuity trade agreements with countries that accounted for £109 billion of trade in 2018, together with our temporary tariff regime. This will ensure continuity for UK businesses however we leave the EU.1

Attracted more than 94,000 bids for international export opportunities from UK businesses via the platform. We launched a new export opportunities platform to match UK businesses with international opportunities. Over 285,000 export opportunities have already been published by international businesses and Governments, and is used by more than 36,000 registered businesses as well as around 140,000 unique visitors each month.

Provided over £7.9 billion-worth of backing for exports through UK Export Finance, supporting over 63,000 jobs since April 2017. In June 2019, UK Export Finance also announced an extensive new finance package to support the UK’s 5.7 million small and medium-sized enterprises to export into emerging markets.

1 See for more details: