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Volume 724: debated on Thursday 15 December 2022

In 2021, the Conservative Government concluded the UK-Japan comprehensive economic partnership agreement—the first major trade deal that the UK struck as an independent trading nation. That agreement provides significant opportunities for British business in Japan and goes further than the previous EU deal. It also strengthens our case for accession to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. The UK Government are also working hard to reduce barriers to trade in Japan—for example, last year, we secured market access for UK poultry, which is worth £65 million over five years.

Last month, I visited Japan with the British Council where I saw its fantastic work to promote UK arts and culture and to strengthen our trading relationship with a key ally in the Indo-Pacific region. Does the Minister agree that the British Council is a soft power powerhouse, and can he tell me what work the Department does with it to boost trade around the world?

I thank the hon. Lady for that question. We work closely with all aspects of UK hard and soft power abroad and we frequently work with the British Council, particularly on our education exports, which are a huge sector and a huge opportunity for this country. We engage regularly with the British Council to ensure that the DIT is at the forefront of our educational offer in particular and that the ties of friendship promoted by the British Council feed through into our commercial relationship. There is no better example of that than our excellent recent deal with Japan.