New trade commissioners hired to help UK exporters seize opportunities in Europe and Central Asia

Wed 1 Sept 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

International trade secretary Liz Truss has appointed two new Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioners (HMTCs) to help attract inward investment and enable British firms to seize export opportunities throughout Europe and Central Asia.

Chris Barton, previously acting director general of trade negotiations at DIT, has been appointed as HMTC for Europe.

The current deputy HMTC for Europe, Kenan Poleo, also becomes HMTC for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Network (EECAN).

The two new appointees will working closely with the wider diplomatic network and government colleagues in their region, the DIT announced.

Export champions

As previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, trade commissioners are government officials who seek to attract inward investment from and champion a country’s goods and services to a particular overseas region.

The UK HMTC roles were set up by former international trade secretary Dr Liam Fox in 2017 for nine geographic areas around the world in anticipation of the UK leaving the EU. 

Truss said the new commissioners had proven expertise and a wealth of knowledge to help businesses.

Future facing industries

“As an independent trading nation, our relationships with our closest trading partner Europe and with Central Asia remain extremely important,” she said.

“We are working hard to promote Britain as a top investment destination – particularly in future-facing industries like science, tech and the green economy – and help British exporters access new markets,” she added.


Kenan Poleo said his key priority was to support British businesses in realising the opportunities for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, particularly in areas where the UK excels, such as technology and clean growth.

“With GDP per capita across the region set to maintain its upward trajectory for the foreseeable future, my teams are primed to guide businesses on how to strengthen their investment and export horizons into these exciting, growing markets,” he said.

European opportunity

Chris Barton, the commissioner for Europe, said ratification of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, alongside new FTAs with other European countries, meant opportunities for British exporters.

“It is my job to build on these firm foundations, encouraging trade and investment between the UK and other European countries by reducing barriers to UK trade in Europe, helping UK businesses to export to Europe, attracting inward investment from Europe, and championing the rules-based international trading system with Europe,” he said.


UK-EU trade suffered earlier this year, after Britain left the EU customs union and single market.

UK exports to the EU plummeted in January, after rule changes were introduced for exports to the bloc – including the requirement for traders to complete declarations.

However, trade with the EU has since rebounded and is now higher than it was last year, City AM reports.