Liz Truss says UK will be 'adding' to trade deals in 2021
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Giving a keynote speech, the International Trade Secretary hailed the UK’s newfound freedom as an opportunity for British farmers. She said her department was working hard to open new export markets for producers.
The speech came as she launched a new campaign to boost exports of food and drink.
The Open Doors campaign by the Government aims to target the growing middle classes in places such as Asia.
“The fact is we have been held back by nearly 50 years of anti-innovation that didn’t suit the interests of British farmers,” Ms Truss said addressing the virtual conference.
“We’ve had high tariff wars with the rest of the world, whether it’s 26 percent going on some cuts of beef to the United States, or the 150 percent tariff on Scotch whiskey exports to India.
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“We’ve also been held back by bans on our products like the US lamb ban or India’s red tape on apples and pairs.
“What we now have is the opportunity as an independent trading nation to set our own tariffs and to deal with the issues that have held us back.
“We’re seizing those opportunities to deepen our trade worldwide, from the Americas, to the Asian-Pacific.”
Ms Truss said the high quality of UK produce made it highly competitive and appealing to middle class consumers abroad.
But only a fifth of food manufacturers export their produce, she said.
The scheme – which involves £2million funding – will include advertising to encourage businesses to increase their overseas sales, practical help from the Government including exporting masterclasses and a new mentoring programme to help firms export.
She added: “Our farmers need access to new markets around the world, but we need to get rid of the barriers holding them back. We will help you get out into the global market.
“Exporting supports higher wages, productivity, and high-quality jobs, but one in five of our food manufacturers export.
“We want to unleash the potential of many more businesses, which is why I am glad today to announce a new export campaign for British food and drink.
“We are dubbing this our Open Doors campaign, reflecting the work we are doing to open new doors for farmers and food producers to unprecedented opportunities across the world.”
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Her comments reflected similar remarks made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a pre-recorded message played at the start of the conference.
He said British farmers had now been “freedom from the shackles of the Common Agricultural Policy” they were tied to when the UK was in the EU.
“I hope this can be the moment when we start to realise the many opportunities we now have,” he said.
While the Prime Minister and Ms Truss praised the UK’s new trading relationship as an opportunity, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer used a speech at the conference criticise the EU trade deal.
He said: “Whichever way we all voted, I think we all share anger and frustration at the way the Government has handled this.
“The 11th-hour deal, new red tape, and more bureaucracy.
“That’s holding British businesses back.
“It’s making it harder and more expensive to export to our largest market.
“As we now face the future and build new trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world, it’s vital that we do so with the needs of British farming and fishing communities at heart.”
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