Secretary of State for International Trade speech at DLA Piper

Secretary of State of International Trade, Liz Truss, speaks at DLA Piper about the UK's future outside the European Union

The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP

It is fantastic to be here at DLA Piper, talking about the huge opportunities that Global Britain has, particularly in areas like services and digital.

As a newly independent trading nation, we have a huge opportunity to strike modern, advanced deals that go further and faster in areas like services and digital but also help that shape the rules of modern trade.

We have got an opportunity more flexible, more nimble and less defensive in our approach to trade.

We are already the second largest services exporter in the world, and we have a huge comparative advantage in this area.

We are number three in terms of the number of billion-dollar tech companies we have. We are home to world-class services, from finance services and creative industries to education and insurance.

As the world recovers from coronavirus, we have seen an acceleration of the adoption of digital technology and the tyranny of geography is being reduced over time.

What I want us to do as the United Kingdom is for us to help set the standard for free trade and market liberalisation.

Just as Sir Robert Peel abolished the Corn Laws, which led to an era of unprecedented growth in industrial and manufacturing areas, this is precisely what we can do now by abolishing the barriers holding back development in services and digital growth.

Whether it is in areas like digital, financial and legal services, professional services or creative services, as well as those that are attached to advanced manufacturing, the UK is also extremely strong.

We know that 66% of our services are currently being delivered remotely and by 2050 it is expected that 50% of global trade will be digital.

We are not just positioning ourselves with some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, which is a central part of our trade strategy, we’re also positioning ourselves in the right industries where we have strong competitive advantage.

My ambition is for the United Kingdom to be a global hub for services, digital and advanced manufacturing trade by striking a series of advanced, high-standards agreements with leading nations across the world, as well as acceding to some leading plurilateral agreements.

We will also be pushing hard at the World Trade Organisation to see advances in areas like e-commerce, services domestic regulation and digital trade.

The fact is that the World Trade Organisation was established in 1995, before Google had set up its first website, and it needs modernisation to make sure it is the home for advanced trade.

But before I go on to talk about the specifics of some of the deals, I think it is important that we continue to make the case for free trade, which is an important part of making the world more successful and bringing people out of poverty.

And what I have observed in the work I have done so far is protectionism does not just come in areas like agriculture or manufacturing. There is also significant protectionism in areas like services.

And what we need is leading businesses in the services arena, whether they are digital companies, whether it is the City of London or whether it is legal services industry, to be making the case for free trade in these areas too.

Because we know the competition, the openness, the innovation that trade brings has huge benefits, not just for the United Kingdom, but right across the world. It is the original theory of comparative advantage that it is a win-win for countries that reduce barriers to trade, that everybody becomes more successful.

And we need business voices to help make that case in an era where there is sometimes doubts about trade and some of those doubts have fair foundations – of course we need to make sure there is a level playing field, of course we need to make sure our businesses are not subject to unfair competition – but, at the same time, we need to point out the huge benefits that trade has brought and the benefits it will bring in the future.

Because trade is not a zero-sum game. Opening up those opportunities for British business will also help power opportunities around the world.

And, in our negotiations, we are pushing very hard for Britain’s services businesses in areas like government procurement, recognition of professional qualifications, business mobility and regulatory cooperation to break down the barriers businesses face to sell their services around the world.

We have already done deals covering 67 nations plus the EU and almost £900 billion in trade.

In the case of Japan, we went further than the existing EU-Japan deal in a number of important areas, namely on digital trade, making sure that we have the free flow of data, in areas like digital property and also areas like mobility, making it easier for business people to travel between the UK and Japan.

And the EEA deal with Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, which we agreed in principle last week, again, we have been pushing very hard to get better access for British services and we broke new ground in a number of areas.

We have secured bold business commitments, with any UK business able to post staff to Norway for four years, taking their families with them.

We’ve secured the recognition of UK legal qualifications and further routes for the recognition of other professional qualifications.

And Norway is now opening its boardrooms to British directors, who will not have to relocate there to take up top positions.

There are strong provisions in areas like financial technology and an advanced digital and data chapter.

We are demonstrating in the deals we are striking that we want Britain to lead in services and digital trade.

Last week, you will have seen the announcement that CPTPP countries are ready to start negotiations concerning the UK’s accession process to the agreement.

And CPTPP is an agreement that covers £9 trillion of GDP, it is a very advanced agreement, it is probably the most advanced plurilateral in areas like services, which are of interest to the UK.

And what we are seeing is a growing demand in the Asia-Pacific region for British services. In 2030, it is expected that two-thirds of the world’s middle-classes will live in the Asia-Pacific region. And they will want to buy more digital services, more legal services, more financial services, more creative products from the United Kingdom.

Our accession to this agreement is a key part of that economic opportunity for the UK. So just going through a few key elements of the deal: it has got an advanced digital and data chapter, it helps put in a level playing field for services companies in the 11 member markets; British lawyers will be able to fly in and fly out of Malaysia and Mexico to provide services; there will be a pathway to recognition of professional qualifications; strong data provisions, clear visa requirements and application processes.

And what it does is it abolishes a lot of local restrictions that are often put in the way of services companies succeeding, for example on the basing of offices in the case of financial services, organisations and other institutions.

But, to me, CPTPP is a baseline, and in agreements with countries like Australia, with Canada and with Mexico, which we are negotiating with at the moment, we have the opportunity to go even further. Take Australia for example, we are already selling £600 million of legal, accounting and management consultancy services there and we want to see areas like the recognition of UK qualifications, we also want to see further benefits for maritime services, an industry worth £500m into Australia.

There are opportunities for the insurance industry, which is worth £1.2 billion, and, of course, financial services, where there is a huge opportunity in the Australian market.

So, CPTPP, combined with more advanced deals with its constituent members – we have recently announced new negotiations are going to be taking place with Canada and Mexico, as well as Australia and New Zealand – really does bring a huge amount of benefits to Britain’s services industries.

And this is by no means the limit of our ambitions. We have recently launched a consultation on India, a very strong country in areas like technology, life sciences, huge opportunities for British businesses there and, of course, legal services is another area where we are doing a lot of work.

We are deepening ties with markets like the Gulf, where there are opportunities to help set up new services frameworks.

And then there is of course the work with the United States, the world’s largest services exporter. Again, an opportunity to increase our cooperation with that really important friend and ally.

There is a lot to be done, there is a lot we have achieved so far, but there is a huge opportunity to really now deepen some of those trading relationships we have already built, and particularly deepen them in areas where the UK can make a significant difference.

And what I want to do is really unleash the opportunities of Global Britain for Britain’s services and digital industries, and I am really pleased to be at DLA Piper talking about that tonight.

Thank you.

Department for International Trade
The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP