Earlier this month, I submitted the UK’s formal application to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. Joining CPTPP will put us at the heart of some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and slash tariffs for key industries such as cars and whisky. Membership of this high-standards agreement comes with no strings attached, with no requirement to cede control over our laws, our borders or our money. Joining will help propel a jobs-led, export-led, investment-led recovery from covid across our United Kingdom.
I thank my right hon. Friend for all her hard work flying the Union flag with pride around the world. There has never been a more important time to champion the exporting potential of British business, so will she enable the Department for International Trade to partner with me so that I can ensure that the Potteries’ world-leading ceramic tableware manufacturers, such as Churchill China and Steelite, based in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, can benefit from support for exciting exporting opportunities?
We recently launched the parliamentary export programme, through which MPs can partner with DIT, and we will shortly be recruiting a second cohort of MPs; I know that the Exports Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart), already has my hon. Friend’s name on the list. I also invite my hon. Friend to join our virtual Japan mega-mission, which is being led by the Exports Minister in the next couple of weeks and will bring Stoke-on-Trent firms in contact with Japanese companies so that they can sell their fantastic goods.
Bracknell businesses should be assured that we have a plethora of new initiatives to whet their exporting appetites. We are committed to helping businesses realise their economic potential through exports, and we provide a comprehensive global system of support to help them do so. There are a range of initiatives that enhance UK exporting, including our international export hubs, the £38 million internationalisation fund providing grants, and UK Export Finance’s general export facility, another new initiative, all of which combine to help upskill firms, build their capability and finance everyday costs.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will try to be as quick in my response.
I will pass on the hon. Lady’s concerns to the Cabinet Office. The Government have invested considerably in customs and clearance agents. I refer her and her constituent’s company to the different helplines that are available both from us at DIT and, most particularly, from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Border and Protocol Delivery Group to provide practical assistance for her constituents.
The simple answer is for them to go to gov.uk/growbyexports. There are educational masterclasses, meet the buyer events and the opportunity to send samples of their products to overseas buyers in specially selected hampers. Those are just some of the activities open to Hampshire businesses.
As I said earlier, we have one of the most robust systems in the world for arms export controls. All exports are governed by the consolidated criteria, and we have a proud record in this country of upholding our values. In the 19th century, we abolished slavery. In the 1990s, we were peacekeepers in the Balkans. We have always played our role in the world and we will continue to do so.
Is not it fantastic to hear that genuine enthusiasm for business, jobs and the prosperity that results? What a shame we do not hear it from the Opposition. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State enjoyed her visit to Marrose Abrasives, and there are many opportunities before our negotiations with New Zealand, Australia and the United States. We have conducted public consultations. We have trade advisory groups, so through representative organisations and others, we are open every day to hear from businesses such as Marrose and make sure that their voice is heard and drives our trade policy objectives.
I thank my hon. Friend for that question. She is absolutely right; the UK is a great place to invest. The UK was the first major economy to make a breakthrough in attracting foreign investment, under Margaret Thatcher, now four decades ago. The UK has remained an extremely attractive place to invest since. In November the Prime Minister announced a new Office for Investment, jointly led by No. 10 and the Department for International Trade.
SMEs are vital to increasing UK trade, which is why we are seeking SME chapters in all our free trade agreements, and we provide a vast range of support for them. I congratulate my hon. Friend on being a trailblazer for the parliamentary export programme, and I encourage businesspeople in the Vale of Clwyd to attend the virtual meetings that he is organising, chairing and using to ensure that his local companies get all the international sales support that Government can offer.
I agree with the hon. Lady that the atrocities committed by China in Xinjiang are abhorrent. The Government have taken firm action on supply chains and businesses doing business in that part of China, but expanding the role of the UK courts raises serious constitutional issues, and instead the issue needs to be addressed politically.
I thank my right hon. Friend. He is right to identify these unfair practices in world trade. Put simply, for far too long, China has not been transparent, with practices such as industrial subsidies for state-owned enterprises, forced technology transfers and claiming special differential treatment. We will continue to work at the WTO and with G7 democracies to tighten up the rules and ensure that they are properly enforced.