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LONDON — British traders have long been fans of headline-grabbing, Instagram-worthy free trade deals that have fueled Brexit momentum. But Kemi Badenok has something less glamorous in mind. It’s a highway.
The current secretary of international trade — once a Tory leadership candidate and the party’s grassroots stalwart — has spent the past few months since taking the reins at the Department of International Trade (DIT) to find more than his hosts. I’ve made a point of being on the beat. of the Big Bang Agreement signed under the post’s previous owner.
Instead, she’s trying to shift the focus of her department to something more mundane. This includes ensuring that businesses can actually take advantage of deals the UK has entered into, reducing trade barriers, increasing inward investment and promoting exports. And she has a favorite car metaphor to underscore the point.
“Trade agreements are like highways,” she said last fall. The back and forth is exports and investments.” These were the words she tried again during a tough pre-Christmas questioning by British MPs, saying, “Free trade agreements are highways. I would like to emphasize that it is something like
The change in approach has already earned praise from some industry players, but it is also seen as a sign that the UK is banking on many of its quick post-Brexit gains.
now for the hard bit
Eager to show that Brexit was worth it, the UK set about negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) after leaving the European Union, securing a number of rollover deals and closing deals with Australia and New Zealand. secured a big deal from scratch and started negotiations. With Mexico, Canada, Gulf countries, India, Israel, etc.
While the topic often received favorable media attention and propelled then-Trade Secretary Liz Truss to the top of the Tory Party, the UK deal is now under more scrutiny, with experts saying the UK claims its trade honeymoon is over. A much-needed free-trade deal with the United States has stalled.
William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The real test of trade agreements is their use by businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises looking to export more goods and services.” said. He added that there needs to be a balance between negotiating improved terms while “allowing businesses to get the most value from these agreements.”
Marco Forgione, director of the Institute for Export and International Trade, welcomed Badenoch’s “clear message” that “more emphasis will be placed on expanding exports and investment opportunities”.
Nicholas Lyons, Mayor of London and UK financial and professional services ambassador, said: “I think Kemi Badenok is absolutely right to focus on where our strengths lie. You could end up doing nothing by spinning a lot of wheels trying to
change of focus
The UK is not entirely shy about free trade negotiations under Badenok. During her brief tenure the UK signed a digital pact with Ukraine and in December began a negotiating process to strengthen a free trade agreement with South Korea. and a deal with India could happen in early 2023.
But Badenok and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have already abandoned Britain’s ambition to set a deadline for an FTA, preferring depth over speed rather than tying the complex deal primarily to political dates. I would like to prioritize.
Badenoch, who backed Brexit, said he thought it was “important” for the UK to demonstrate its newfound independent trade policy after Brexit. However, she said, [the rollover deals and FTAs] Seeing that they work, are more efficient, etc. would be my approach. “
Her department “still has a lot of work to do in less attractive areas, like removing tariffs,” she told the International Trade Commission.
Government officials said the change was driven by a desire to highlight and clarify that there is more to trade than an FTA.
Badenok told MPs when he joined the DIT in September that he “absolutely wanted” time to consider a deal with India proposed by the UK, but was ultimately prime minister at the time. I had to follow the instructions of Mr. Truss. Boris Johnson.
She seems to have an ideological partner in Sunak, who, unlike the more libertarian Truss, has already warned about the downsides of free trade agreements.Snack branded the UK deal with Australia as “one-sided”, but Badenoch once warned On the trade-offs associated with FTAs and the impact of market opening on domestic producers.
After building a broad consensus among successive commerce secretaries, Mr. Badenok appears to be pushing the ministry in a new direction.
“My approach will be different from that of previous secretaries of state,” she told lawmakers. I hope to return to the Bureau of Trade.”