Lord Ian Botham to lead new team of trade envoys batting for Global Britain overseas

Mon 23 Aug 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

ian botham

Photo: Botham & Co - The Ashes Trent Bridge 2015 by Airwolfhound, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has announced 10 new trade envoys, including the eye-catching appointment of Lord Ian Botham as envoy to Australia.

As well as the former England cricketer, the DIT has appointed ex-Labour MP and Brexit supporter Baroness Kate Hoey to Ghana, while DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson adds Cameroon to his role as trade envoy to Egypt.

A DIT announcement said the envoys “will boost British business in dynamic markets such as Australia, Brazil and Canada”.

Skills and knowledge

Envoys will use their skills, experience, and market knowledge to help UK businesses find new export and investment opportunities while promoting UK trade in their allocated markets, it adds.

Trade policy minister Greg Hands, said: “From Norway to New Zealand, Pakistan to Brazil, our Trade Envoys will help increase UK trade with some of the world’s most exciting and dynamic markets and showcase the UK as a great place to invest.”

Trade envoys are parliamentarians appointed by the Prime Minister, drawn from both Houses and across the political spectrum. The roles are unpaid and voluntary.

76 countries

The new appointments bring the total number of envoys supporting the UK’s trade and investment agenda to 36, covering 76 different countries.

According to the DIT, in 2020/21, trade envoys supported more than £16bn of UK exports. 

The full list of envoys is:

  • Lord Ian Botham appointed to Australia
  • Baroness Hoey appointed to Ghana
  • Stephen Timms MP appointed to Switzerland and Liechtenstein
  • David Mundell MP appointed to New Zealand
  • Mark Eastwood MP appointed to Pakistan
  • Marco Longhi MP appointed to Brazil
  • Conor Burns MP appointed to Canada
  • Lord Walney [John Woodcock] appointed to Tanzania
  • Felicity Buchan MP appointed to Iceland and Norway
  • Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP appointed to Cameroon, in addition to his role as Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Egypt.

Robust relationship

Botham has had a robust relationship with Australians – and not just from his clashes with the country as a cricketer in the Ashes series.

He once said, “Aussies are big and empty - just like the country”, the BBC reports.

However, Sky reports that Brexit-supporter Botham has business ties with the country having launched his own range of Australian wines in 2001.

The all-rounder also featured in a series of promotional ads for English beef and lamb in the 2000s, alongside fellow cricketer Allan Lamb.

British farmers have more recently complained that the UK’s trade deal with Australia will undercut such homegrown meat, as previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update.

Controversial appointments

Some of government’s trade envoy and advisor appointments have been criticised in recent times.

Former Australian PM Tony Abbott’s appointment to a trade role was lambasted by Labour shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry, who called him a “Trump-worshipping misogynist”, according to the Guardian.

Prince Andrew was also forced to relinquish his role as a “special representative” for Trade and Investment due to his association with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the BBC.