New international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has highlighted the need for Britain to break down digital trade barriers – as a channel and as a product – to help services exporters.
Trevelyan used her first speech as minister to launch a Department for International Trade five-point plan for digital trade.
The virtual speech to London Tech Week said that the UK must break down unfair or discriminatory digital trade barriers to boost exports from its £150bn digital sector.
Make it simpler
According to the government, many businesses face barriers in benefitting from digital technology. Making digital trade easier will allow businesses to reach more customers by making it simpler to sell online and trade efficiently and cost-effectively.
Trevelyan said tackling protectionism would provide opportunities for businesses and improve productivity, jobs and growth.
The five-point plan would be the first step in shaping international digital trade policy for decades to come. “Through our network of international agreements, we are breaking new ground, pushing forward innovative ideas and setting a new gold standard for digital trade.”
Trade deals typically focus on removing goods trade barriers, but since leaving the EU, Britain has sought to include agreements on digital trade in its deals, reports Reuters.
According to the Commons Library, service industries accounted for 80% of total UK economic output (Gross Value Added) and 82% of employment in January-March 2021.
As previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, last year the UK agreed a comprehensive digital chapter as part of its FTA with Japan and in June, negotiations were launched on a cutting-edge Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore.
Under the five-point plan, DIT will:
1. Facilitate more open digital markets to ensure British consumers and businesses benefit from greater access to digital markets in other countries.
2. Advocate free and trusted cross-border data flows that will make it simpler and cheaper for businesses who use data to trade internationally while maintaining the UK’s high standards for personal data protection.
3. Champion consumer and business safeguards through enhanced consumer and intellectual property protections.
4. Promote the development and adoption of innovative digital trading systems such as digital customs processes, e-contracting and paperless trading, which can cut red tape and make trade easier, cheaper, faster, and more secure.
5. Establish global cooperation on digital trade via free trade agreements with international partners and using our G7 presidency and seat at the WTO to push for countries to become more open to digital trade.