First day in office – what we know about how Anne-Marie Trevelyan may approach her DIT portfolio

Thu 16 Sept 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

anne-marie trevelyan

The new secretary of state for international trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, was welcomed to the Department for International Trade (DIT) by permanent secretary James Bowler this morning, following her promotion to the role in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle.

Trevelyan, who replaces the outgoing Liz Truss, will be joined at DIT by former paymaster general Penny Mordaunt, who becomes minister of state for trade.

BEIS background

As noted in yesterday’s IOE&IT Daily Update, Trevelyan joins from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), where she was minister for business, energy and clean growth.

She was also the ‘UK international champion on adaptation and resilience’ for the COP26 presidency and was the last head of the Department for International Development (DFID) before it was merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The minister backed Brexit in 2016 and voted in favour of the UK’s trade agreement with the EU in 2020. She also backed the Trade Bill (now the Trade Act 2021) which established the legislative framework for the UK’s trade deal negotiations.

Beyond Europe

In a Huffington Post article in 2018, she stridently backed the sort of ‘Global Britain’ agenda that DIT pursued under her predecessor, pointing out that “around 90% of global economic growth will come from outside the EU in the years ahead” and “the EU now accounts for less than half of our overall trade”.

Writing on the Britain’s post-Brexit prospects, she wrote: “Over 90% of all trade travels by sea, and we are inextricably linked to this global network, as a proud maritime trading nation for the last 400 years. British goods and services are recognised as the best in the world and sought after by global customers. This will not change.”

Animal welfare

She has been vocal on the ban of live animal exports on her own website, welcoming a government consultation on ending excessively long journeys for animals being transported for slaughter and fattening.

“Ending live exports for slaughter and fattening signals our intention to continue being a world leader in animal welfare by maintaining and strengthening our already high animal welfare standards,” she said.

Ethical trading

According to Edie.net, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Trevelyan set up a Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility to enable UK retailers and fashion firms to work with charities like the Fairtrade Foundation and the Ethical Trading Initiative to improve working conditions and access to healthcare for supply chain workers in developing nations such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana. 

She said: “We want to ensure people in Britain can continue to buy affordable, high-quality goods from around the world.

“This new fund will strengthen vital supply chains for UK consumers, while supporting some of the most vulnerable workers in developing countries,” she added. “It will make a real difference to people in the UK and abroad.”

Early portfolio

The new minister could benefit from some early wins, according to Politico’s London Playbook, with some big deal nearing completion, including finalising the Australia deal and reaching an agreement in-principle with New Zealand.

However, Politico also highlights some of her tougher tasks, including getting the US to drop tariffs on British steel and aluminium.