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trade bill

The UK will avoid a ‘Britain First’ approach to trade post-transition and adopt a values-based policy that promotes free trade, Liz Truss told a conference yesterday.

Speaking at Chatham House’s ‘Global Trade Live’ event, the International Trade Secretary said Britain had learnt from the twin errors of values-free globalisation and protectionism.

WTO reform

While calling for reforms of multilateral organisations like the WTO, she also spoke out against protectionism, saying: 

“Cutting off an economy will not fix a lack of decent infrastructure, transport links and skills support, but it will consign industry to decline. Protectionism paves the way to poverty, not to prosperity. Industry needs to be open to ideas and opportunities from the global market.” 

The speech could be interpreted as a rebuttal to the ‘America first’ policies of President Trump, just as Democrat candidate Joe Biden appears on course to win next week’s US election, according to the New European

Innovation hub

Speaking of Trump’s protectionist rhetoric and the EU’s pursual of “strategic autonomy”, Truss said the UK “will not be pulling up the drawbridge in an autarkic Britain First approach” and must remain open to the world.

Contrasting the UK with the “innovation phobic” EU, she said the UK would become the “ideas factory of the world” and reshape global rules in areas like digital and data, services and advanced manufacturing.

Britain will “work with like-minded democracies to support freedom, human rights and the environment while boosting enterprise by lowering barriers to trade,” she said.

Red lines

Truss also laid out red lines for the government’s values-driven approach to trade: