UK looks to the Asia-Pacific region in plans to become a 'global tech powerhouse'

Thu 11 Jun 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

uk tech strategy

The government has announced a new strategy to turn the UK into a “global tech powerhouse” with an initial focus on boosting trade in the Pacific region.

Liz Truss launched the ‘Future Tech Trade Strategy’ yesterday (10 June) as part of London Tech Week and announced measures that will help tech businesses “take advantage of opportunities in fast-growing markets overseas”.

The strategy will form a key part of the UK’s negotiating efforts for trade deals post Brexit, with Truss saying “addressing barriers to digital trade” is a key element of ongoing and future talks.

Tech is an important growth area for the UK, contributing £149bn to the economy in 2018 and employing nearly three million people. The UK last year attracted over £10bn in overseas investment for the sector, double that of Germany and France combined.

Key points

The strategy launched several new initiatives including:

  • An £8m Digital Trade Network (DTN) for Asia Pacific to support tech businesses to internationalise in the region
  • The creation of a new Tech Exporting Academy to provide expert advice for high-potential SMEs to grow in priority markets
  • A new DIT platform to “supercharge” the UK’s tech presence on the global stage
  • A new tech network enhancing tech internationalisation from the regions and devolved nations, including 25 regionally based ‘tech export champions’
  • Expansion of DIT’s High Potential Opportunities programme to drive foreign direct investment
  • A new campaign promoting the UK’s fintech sector
  • A campaign promoting UKEF support in the sector

Julian David, CEO of Tech UK, said the industry supports the launch of the new strategy and it looks forward to working with government to “ensure all tech businesses can take opportunities in fast-growing markets overseas.”

Addressing barriers

Looking to the Asia-Pacific region and knocking down barriers to digital trade have defined the UK’s initial approach to trade negotiations since withdrawing from the EU on 30 January 2020.

This week the UK began talks with Japan with a view to joining CPTPP (the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) in the future.

Liz Truss says CPTTP has a “very advanced digital and data chapter” which she wants the UK to be a part of.

“Japan is important in its own right, of course it’s a hugely advanced technology nation, but it’s also the biggest player in CPTPP, which is an alliance of eleven Pacific nations which spans as far as Mexico, Canada, Chile, Australia and New Zealand,” she said.