On 4 March, we struck a historic deal with the US Administration, heralding the end of the 16-year Airbus-Boeing dispute. The deal removes the 25% tariffs on some UK exports, such as Scotch whisky, cashmere and machinery. It paves the way for an even deeper trading relationship with one of our closest friends and allies. I continue to work with the US trade representative on the deal and on our broader trading relationship.
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his work on the all-party group. The UK is a long-standing supporter and champion of Fairtrade. We are opening up markets with developing countries such as Kenya and Ghana. We will shortly be launching our new general scheme of preferences, which will give more access to developing countries, helping them to grow through trade.
The UK is a country that follows the rules. We have very high standards in areas like the environment, animal welfare, food standards and intellectual property. It is in our interests to be in an agreement with high standards, so that we can ask the same of other countries and get access to their markets. That is the point of signing trade agreements.
My hon. Friend is quite right to highlight the importance of supporting SMEs precisely to get into that international business space. That is why we are developing a new export strategy. We have the developing Export Academy, with a range of toolkits and information to support small businesses. We have the internationalisation fund: £38 million of grants to help businesses to overcome any barriers to international trade. Last but not least, we have UK Export Finance, our award-winning credit agency, which has increasing numbers of staff not only across this United Kingdom, but across the world to make sure that SMEs, wherever they go, can be financed and supported to realise those opportunities, which are many.
First, we are not removing the safeguards in June. When we were part of the EU, decisions about safeguards were made on an independent basis. Nobody on the Opposition side of the House complained about that then, but they seem to object to independent decisions being made when we are a sovereign nation, which I find utterly bizarre. And I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman’s pessimistic prognosis of the future of Welsh exports. We have massive opportunities for more beef exports, more lamb exports, more car exports and more aerospace exports, and that is what we are going to do through our new trade and investment hub in Cardiff. It is going to be driving those opportunities and I urge him to get behind it.
I would be delighted to engage with the local Indian community in Ipswich and across the country, because I think we have huge opportunities to expand our trade with India. It is currently £24 billion, but it could be so much more. We are currently working on an enhanced trade partnership with the Indian Government and I look forward to engaging with my hon. Friend and the people of Ipswich to make it happen.
Like my hon. Friend, I am celebrating the freeport, which will make a positive difference and from which businesses will be able to export all around the world. Our export academy, the new export strategy and other elements are all there to help them to make the most of it, as well as, of course, probably the most ambitious trade policy ever conducted by a major economy in history, which we are successfully prosecuting. If I may, Mr Speaker, I would also like to thank my hon. Friend for briefing me ahead of my visit to Serbia last week, prosecuting the case for British businesses, in his role as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to the western Balkans.
The text, and a parliamentary report and explanatory memorandum, will of course come before Parliament in due course. We wish to utilise the agreement to strengthen the trade ties between our two countries. I look forward to the Labour party supporting our agenda to create more jobs in every part of this country and in Cameroon.
I thank my hon. Friend for promoting the trade agenda so effectively in Wakefield. He is quite right that free trade agreements have a crucial role to play in enabling the UK to seize international opportunities to support that economic vision. Joining CPTPP now will benefit businesses in a number of ways, including through ambitious rules supporting digital trade and reduced tariffs on UK exports, enabling us to build back better and building more opportunities for businesses, supporting jobs in constituencies such as Wakefield.
Not at all. We have always been clear that more trade need not come at the expense of our values, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear earlier today. We have one of the most robust systems of arms export controls in the world and have always been clear that we will only permit exports on a case-by-case basis where the consolidated criteria are upheld.
I commend my right hon. Friend for his work to promote apprenticeships, first in the Government and then as Chair of the Education Committee. It is too early to have final figures for 2021, but we are confident of achieving the legislative target set, building on our previous performance. According to Cabinet Office statistics, DIT achieved 3.5% of its total workforce in England as apprenticeship starts in 2019-20, up from 1.1% the year before, easily clearing the target of 2.3%.