The Department of International Trade (DIT) has a new, temporary head civil servant.
Crawford Falconer, who previously served as second permanent secretary and chief trade negotiator at the DIT from 2017 to 2022, has been appointed as the department’s new interim permanent secretary on a temporary basis.
The previous incumbent, James Bowler, left to head up the treasury department earlier in October.
Falconer worked with prime minister Liz Truss during her stint as international trade secretary.
A joint citizen of both the UK and New Zealand, he has previously served in various trade positions within the New Zealand government as well as in Whitehall, including as ambassador to the WTO and vice minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
After leaving the New Zealand government, he joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as head of the Trade in Services division from 2012-2015.
Before being brought into the UK government, he was a professor in global value chains and trade at Lincoln University in southern New Zealand.
His first task at DIT was to beef up the UK’s trade negotiation capacity, bringing together 10 other departments to train British civil servants in conducting trade talks as the UK began to conduct its own negotiations post-Brexit.
Politico reports that Falconer was the first to push for the UK to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and was also an advocate for the UK to join multiple other trade deals.
He was also involved in the government’s push to strike trade deals with individual US states, telling The Times in July “we don’t think it’s unreasonable that over the next year or so, you could be looking at up to half of the US states as being ones that we would say they are in scope to consider.”
It is not clear whether he hopes to take the job on a permanent basis.