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Bilateral Trade: Developing Countries

Volume 670: debated on Wednesday 29 January 2020

6. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on increasing bilateral trade with developing countries. (900468)

Our Departments work together to ensure that development is at the heart of UK trade policy. This includes delivering the successful UK-Africa Investment Summit, where we announced the trade connect service. The service will help developing countries to make the most of preferential access to UK markets and support UK firms to strengthen their supply chains in developing countries.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Increasing the number of women in the workforce is key to economic growth. What support is DFID giving to women entrepreneurs?

I commend my hon. Friend’s support for entrepreneurship in his constituency and more widely. The UK is absolutely committed to increasing women’s role in trade, recognising the importance of trade as a lever for equality. That is why we recently announced an extension to the Commonwealth SheTrades programme, which provides training and mentoring to female entrepreneurs and connects them to international markets and investment opportunities.

In 2013, Australia merged its aid and trade departments, resulting in worse-performing aid programmes and a mass exodus of development experts and even leading to DFID downgrading the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to third-tier status for staff exchanges. Is that the future that the Secretary of State wants for his own Department, or does he agree that a standalone Department remains the best way for the UK to deliver world-leading international development projects?

Machinery of government changes are a matter for the Prime Minister, but the UK is and will continue to be a superpower when it comes to international development. He will have seen in our manifesto the commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the success of the UK-Africa Investment Summit. What further steps are the Government taking to support British businesses, such as JCB in my constituency, to export more and generate local jobs?

My hon. Friend did an enormous amount in her previous career to ensure more bilateral trade and investment. The summit was indeed a success, building partnerships with Governments and companies for the future, and that will lead to more trade and jobs in both regions.