Brexit Britain poised to turbocharge £326billion industry as new trade masterplan unveiled

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Newly installed International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is targeting unfair or discriminatory digital trade barriers in a bid to put the rocket-boosters on a British economy now liberated from EU rules and regulations. Ms Trevelyan, who took over the role from Liz Truss after the Tory MP for South-West Norfolk was promoted to Foreign Secretary last week, will today outline the challenges facing the sector in a keynote speech to industry leaders which will kick off London Tech Week.

At the same time, the Department for International Trade (DIT) will today publish a five-point plan for establishing a free and fair digital trade landscape to help UK businesses and consumers thrive.

Speaking prior to her speech, she said: “All of us depend on digital trade, yet British businesses face digital barriers in countries who take a protectionist approach.

“I want the UK to break down these barriers and open up new, exciting opportunities for businesses and consumers so we can see improved productivity, jobs and growth.”

She added: “Our five-point plan is the first step in shaping international digital trade policy for decades to come.

“Through our network of international agreements, we are breaking new ground, pushing forward innovative ideas and setting a new gold standard for digital trade.”

Many businesses currently face barriers which hamper their ability to benefit from digital technology such as paperless trading, or which force them to meet unjustified requirements to localise data or disclose their intellectual properties such as source code.

The DIT believes streamlining digital trade will enable businesses in every sector to reach more customers by making it easier to sell online, as well as helping them trade efficiently and cost-effectively.

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In accordance with the five-point plan, the DIT will:

  • Facilitate more open digital markets to ensure British consumers and businesses benefit from greater access to digital markets in other countries.
  • Advocate free and trusted cross-border data flows that will make it simpler and cheaper for businesses who use data to trade internationally while maintaining the UK’s high standards for personal data protection
  • Champion consumer and business safeguards through enhanced consumer and intellectual property protections
  • Promote the development and adoption of innovative digital trading systems such as digital customs processes, e-contracting and paperless trading, which can cut red tape and make trade easier, cheaper, faster, and more secure
  • Establish global cooperation on digital trade via free trade agreements with international partners and using our G7 presidency and seat at the WTO to push for countries to become more open to digital trade.
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    Office for National Statistics figures show digital trade is vital for business growth in the UK, being worth £326billion in 2019.

    The digital sector contributed £150.6billion to the UK economy in 2019 and employing 4.6 percent of the national workforce, according to Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Economic Estimates

    Last year, the UK struck a comprehensive digital chapter as part of the Free Trade Agreement with Japan.

    Additionally, in June, negotiations were launched on a cutting-edge Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore in a move which will push the frontiers of digital trade still further.

    In the next few months, the UK will aim to tie up negotiations with other key partners including Australia and New Zealand.

    In doing so, the Government hopes it can bolster Britain’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

    Confirming the UK’s CPTPP application in June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Membership of the CPTTP free-trade partnership would open up unparalleled opportunities for British businesses and consumers in the fast-growing Indo-Pacific.

    “It’s an exciting opportunity to build on this country’s entrepreneurial spirit and free trading history to bring economic benefits across the whole of the UK.”

    Ms Truss added: “CPTPP already has significant global presence, and our accession would send a powerful signal to the rest of the world that the UK, as an independent trading nation, will continue to champion free and fair trade, fight protectionism and slash tariffs at every opportunity.”

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