express– The International Trade Secretary wants the UK to make the most of its newfound freedom by liberalising trading rules to boost areas that have been previously left behind. Nearly 90 per cent of world growth is expected to be outside the European Union over the next five years. A report by the Board of Trade, led by Ms Truss, calls for Britain to focus on securing trade deals with large, fast-growing economies outside Europe to reboot the economy after the pandemic.
Ms Truss said the report shows how boosting global trade will deliver jobs and growth across the UK, particularly in the so-called blue wall areas that were traditionally industrial Labour heartlands until the last election.
She added: “Export-led jobs are more productive and higher paying, but currently too few businesses export and our economy is not international enough. This potential can be liberated through more trade deals, boosting our role as global hub for digital and services trade, and by pursuing policies that drive an exports-led recovery.
“The opportunity we have as an independent trading nation is huge. Today’s report outlines how we can do things differently and capitalise on defining trends like the emergence of Asia’s middle classes and rapid growth in the Indo-Pacific.”
The Board of Trade was set up to champion exports, inward investment and deliver economic growth across the UK.
Its advisers include former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, who called for the UK to follow the lead of his home country as well as Singapore and New Zealand to embrace free trade now it has shaken off the EU.
Australia has increasingly cut trade barriers since the 1970s and 79 per cent of its imports are now tariff free.
The Australian Government estimates that in the three decades to 2016 real GDP was five per cent higher due to goods trade liberalisation.
Mr Abbott said: “There’s no doubt that more trade means more jobs and more trade with high wage economies means more high wage jobs at home.
“I am pleased to be associated with this report advocating an all-round reduction of trade barriers between countries with market economies under the rule of law.
“Especially at this time – with pandemic driven border closures and supply chain disruptions – the case for openness needs to be proclaimed.”
The Global Britain, Local Jobs report says by “seizing its destiny as an independent trading nation” higher productivity and higher paying local jobs can be spread across the country.
It makes a series of recommendations to unlock the UK’s export potential to create a “trade-led, jobs-led” recovery from covid 19.
The UK should boost its role as a global centre for services and digital trade and more help for businesses to increase their exports, it says.
The plan, which is being launched today, will have to be signed off by the Cabinet but it is expected that most proposals will be backed.
It says the UK should ride the wave of growth in digital and environmental industries, with the green economy set to be worth £170bn per year by 2030.
Economist Linda Yueh said: “The damage from the pandemic has been considerable. Trade can help with the economic recovery and create jobs across the country as set out in the study that accompanies today’s report. It’s thus important that the UK promotes fair and free trade to open up opportunities for our businesses and work with partners to improve the global rules-based system.”
It comes as research by the Fraser of Allander Institute released today (WED) shows nearly 6.5 million jobs in the UK are supported by exports.
It found that more jobs, some 3.7 million, are supported by exports to the rest of the world than to the EU, which is linked to 2.8 million.
The study suggests boosting exports will help the government with its plan to “level up” the country, with around three-quarters of all export-linked jobs outside London in 2016, amounting to hundreds of thousands of jobs in each region.
And it estimates that export linked jobs are around seven per cent better paid on average.
Daniel Hannan, a Board of Trade adviser, said: “Free trade lifted Britain above the run of nations, and made us the wealthiest country on the planet. Now, as we recover our trade policy after half a century, we can once again be the world leading free trade champion – not just for our own benefit, but for the world’s.
“Trade is the greatest poverty-buster anyone has come up with and, as we open our markets, we can take satisfaction in the thought that, the richer we get, the richer our trading partners get too.”