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Following its EU exit, the UK will have “a golden opportunity” to determine its own trade policy for the first time in almost half a century, the International Trade Secretary has said.
According to the International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, the UK will seek to retake its seat at the WTO as a fully independent, sovereign nation shortly after its EU divorce.
“We will use our new-found freedom to champion free, fair, rules-based international trade with the WTO at its centre,” Ms Truss said at the International Chamber of Commerce Global Dialogue on Trade Reform.
She assured the auditorium that “Britain is back”, and will continue to champion free trade and trade liberalisation.
“Some may be content to live in a world of rising trade tensions and tit-for-tat tariffs, a world in which, for example, the good people of America are deprived of the chance to sample excellent Scotch whisky,” Ms Truss said.
“But this is not a world that I want to see, and when we take our independent seat around the WTO table, I can assure you we will be unapologetic in fighting the forces of protectionism, in favour of genuinely free trade.”
She noted that Britain will rally for reform of the dispute settlement system, the modernisation of the WTO, and will look to ensure that time limits are met for Appellate Body adjudication on appeals to avoid future unauthorised overrunning of cases.
Additionally, Ms Truss judged that there is an urgent need to strengthen the rules on industrial subsidies, state-owned enterprises and forced technology transfer, and announced that Britain will want to see more progress in supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and advancing e-commerce.
“So there is much to do – and in the UK, the WTO has a steadfast friend. Britain can be relied upon to be a strong voice in all these discussions: both here in Geneva and through our global networks,” Ms Truss said.
The UK expects to have the support of the Commonwealth’s 53 member states as it readies to stand on its own feet following 31 October.
“We will be leveraging our strong bilateral relationships with other major world powers and we will be using our leading roles in international fora to drive the change we want to see,” Ms Truss said.