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UK firms need to take their post-Brexit trade opportunity -trade minister



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British trade minister Liz Truss speaks to Reuters after signing a free trade agreement with Singapore, in Singapore December 10, 2020. REUTERS/Pedja Stanisic

By William James

LONDON (Reuters) – British firms must do more to take advantage of new export routes opened up by Brexit, trade minister Liz Truss will say on Tuesday, calling for a shift from “defence to offence in trade” to help drive economic growth.

Truss will point to government research showing Britain’s comparative economic advantage – what Britain can do better and more efficiently than its peers – lies in providing digital and financial services to fast-growing Asian economies.

“The path to economic revival does not lie in retreating and retrenching but in free trade and free enterprise,” she will say in a speech, according to advance extracts.

“British employers can only benefit from free trade by selling their products, innovation, capital, and ideas overseas.”

Since leaving the European Union, Britain has shifted the focus of its trading and diplomatic strategy away from European neighbours and towards the Indo-Pacific region where it sees more opportunity in growing middle-class wealth and spending.

This strategy includes seeking membership of a trans-Pacific trading bloc including Canada, Australia, Japan and Singapore.

A Department for International Trade report seeking to predict trends in global trade out to 2050 forecast that demand for digital services will double in the next decade.

Trade deals typically focus on removing goods trade barriers, but since leaving the EU Britain has sought to include agreements on digital trade and common standards in professional services to spur service sector growth.

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The report highlighted that, led by financial and business services, Britain’s share of global exports is highest in service-related sectors.

Although subject to considerable uncertainty, the report forecast that the Indo-Pacific region will account for 56% of global GDP growth and 44% of global import demand growth over the next 30 years.

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