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‘Bonfire of the barriers’ to unlock new export markets worth tens of billions

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International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan announces major plans to lift around 100 priority barriers in speech to British Chambers of Commerce.

  • International Trade Secretary announces ambition to unlock export opportunities worth more than £20 billion by resolving around 100 priority trade barriers.
  • New drive aims to allow British farmers to sell beef in South Korea and lamb in China, opening up markets worth £4 billion a year.
  • Cutting trade barriers would allow world-leading UK products and services to reach hundreds of millions of new customers around the world.

The UK is launching a new drive to demolish bureaucratic barriers to international trade, opening up markets worth tens of billions for businesses across the UK, the International Trade Secretary will say today (Thursday 30 June).

Anne-Marie Trevelyan has drawn up a hit list of around 100 priority issues around the world currently blocking British trade, which are being targeted for resolution by teams of specialists in her department.

These range from restrictions on UK-qualified lawyers from operating in Japan, to rules that delay British medical devices from entering South Africa, to restrictions on meat exports to countries in Asia.

The work will allow our world-leading products and services to reach hundreds of millions of new customers globally, benefitting all regions of the UK, Secretary Trevelyan will tell the British Chambers of Commerce’s annual conference.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

“Every week we remove trade barriers somewhere around the world, helping more and more businesses all over the country.

“We know that businesses who export pay higher wages and are more productive than businesses who do not, but too often, complex trade rules and practical obstacles prevent them selling overseas.

“This bonfire of the barriers will grow our economy by allowing our brilliant businesses to satisfy the enormous global appetite for their goods and services.”

Unlocking new markets and global customers means more opportunities for UK firms to grow their businesses and support local jobs. That is why we are working hard on getting rid of barriers, including:

  • Opening the Chinese market for UK lamb for the first time, unlocking markets worth £1.5bn which would help businesses such as Pilgrims Lamb UK.
  • South Korea removing restrictions on UK beef for the first time, opening up markets worth £2.5bn – this is expected to be resolved within the next five years and could benefit businesses such as Northern Ireland based Foyle Food Group.
  • Removing delays in registering new medicines and medical devices in South Africa helping to increase the UK’s exports as well as improving healthcare availability and quality.

The UK gained greater freedom to remove trade barriers, along with the ability to negotiate its own Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), when it left the European Union. FTAs are securing new and substantial opportunities for UK businesses, and the work goes hand in hand with tackling trade barriers facing our firms today.

The department has supported the resolution of around 400 barriers, across more than 70 countries, in the last two years.

These included:

  • Working with Chinese authorities to remove animal testing requirements for many beauty products in China, opening up a market worth £500m and helping brands such as Unilever’s cruelty-free REN brand to import into China for the first time.
  • Overcoming bureaucratic issues to allow the export of pet supplements to India worth £1.4m to Lancashire-based VetPlus over five years.
  • A simplified process for certifying UK cosmetics to Indonesia.
  • Unblocking difficult processes in Mongolia which prevented the export of UK poultry and fish, opening up a market worth £10m, helping Moy Park, a poultry exporter, to supply chicken to KFC Mongolia.

DIT has local offices in every region of the UK, and so when a business hits a barrier to trade, we can step in to help them.

Dr Carl Westmoreland, from Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, said:

“Unilever has been partnering with the Chinese authorities, government laboratories and leading academics since 2011 to build non-animal safety science capability. The regulatory change in China was a significant step forward for cruelty-free cosmetics in the country, and we commend the Department for International Trade for its role in driving forward this important opportunity for cruelty-free brands.”

Anthony Sewart, VetPlus Regional Manager, Eastern Europe, the Middle East & Africa, said:

“Being able to meet the different compliance requirements across the markets we operate in is extremely important to ensure the availability of our products for vets and pet owners.

“Recently, we ran into a challenge in exporting our products to India and the support from the DIT was fantastic. They were able to put us in touch with the right people to help us liaise with the Indian authorities and facilitate the appropriate documentation to enable us to re-start the export of our products to India.”

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