Liz Truss hails ‘historic moment for Global Britain’ as UK unlocks £891bn trade bonanza

Liz Truss says UK will be 'adding' to trade deals in 2021

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The Queen has given Royal Assent to the Trade Bill which gives Britain the freedom to implement deals struck around the world now the UK is freed from the EU. Deals covering 67 counties have already been negotiated by Ms Truss’s department.

The pacts, alongside the EU trade deal brokered by Lord Frost last year, are worth £891billion.

Following Royal Assent, Ms Truss said: “The passing of this Act into law is a landmark moment for the UK.

“For the first time in nearly half a century, we are free to pursue an independent trade policy and put the interests of the British people first.

“We will use that newfound sovereignty to push new frontiers in industries of the future like digital trade and services, champion free and fair trade across the globe, and lead reform of the global trading system.

“Our aim is to strengthen trading links with allies who share our belief in democracy, free enterprise and the rule of law, and to deepen ties with fast-growing economies of the future, positioning Britain where the future growth is and securing our place in a rapidly changing world.

“By doing so, we will propel a jobs-led, exports-led and investment-led recovery from Covid-19 and bring prosperity to all parts of our United Kingdom.”

Officials at the Department for International Trade say the Act is the compilation of 1,200 days of work and 180 hours of debate.

The deals include a mix of rollover agreements – in which the UK can continue trading with countries as under the terms of deals the UK was covered by while a member of the EU – and new bilateral pacts.

The deals help to open up new markets to British businesses, helping to boost jobs, encourage investment and aid the economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic.

Importantly, the Trade Act also means high food and environmental standards are enshrined in law, along with measures to ensure future trade deals do not impact workers’ right or the NHS.

During Brexit withdrawal agreement negotiations Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party repeatedly accused the Conservatives of planning to water down consumer standards and workers rights to secure a US trade deal, they also said Washington would demand private firms be given access to the NHS as a requirement for a pact.

Mr Corbyn warned: “Given the chance, they’ll slash food standards to US levels where ‘acceptable levels’ of rat hairs in paprika and maggots in orange juice are allowed and they’ll put chlorinated chicken on our supermarket shelves.”

Britain is yet to strike a trade deal with the US, but Ms Truss has made it one of her department’s priorities.

President Joe Biden has warned a trade deal is unlikely to be agreed quickly as his full attention is on the immediate US recovery from Covid-19.

“I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers and in education,” he said in December shortly after his election victory.

“I want to make sure we’re going to fight like hell by investing in America first.”

More to follow…

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