UK eyes are on the three As: Asia, the Americas and Africa
In a recent address to the Council of Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the UK, IOE&IT chairman Terry Scuoler CBE started with a defence of trade as a force for good and its role in lifting people out of poverty. He stressed that he was talking about trade which was mutually beneficial – both free and fair.
That vision has been under threat in recent years as many of the world’s trading blocs and nations, but particularly the US and China, have ramped up tensions in their relationships with each other.
While some of the rhetoric has been dialled down since the departure from the world stage of US President Donald Trump, many of the factors that led that way, notably the anti-competitive practices sometimes adopted by China, have not receded.
Concern for UK service exports
Scuoler noted that it was hard to quantify the effects of Brexit because of the simultaneous effects of Covid. He sounded a note of concern that while trade in goods had largely rebounded since the lows of early 2021 trade in services with the EU had not yet done so – a particular worry because of the strength of the UK in services.
He was concerned too about the effects of the Northern Ireland Protocol, worrying that it could not continue to be enforced in its current form and hoping that some renegotiation would be possible.
Simplified trade rules
He highlighted the UK’s ambitions for a better trade environment and the strengths that the country enjoys, such as language and law, as reasons for optimism. He welcomed the government’s plans to increase the density of trade in UK businesses and the introduction, earlier this year, of the Global Tariff which simplified trading rules and removed costs for traders in respect of things like nuisance tariffs.Eyes on the three As
He hoped the UK could continue to enjoy strong trading relationships with its closest neighbours and current biggest trading partners. However, Scuoler pointed out that most of the global growth forecast in the decades to come would be in Asia, the Americas and Africa where a growing middle class was driving demand for the high quality goods and services in which the UK specialises.
He looked forward to the UK joining CPTPP and negotiating further trade agreements around the world.
As he drew to a conclusion, the IOE&IT chairman returned to his earlier theme of mutually beneficial trade – the UK should not see such regions as ‘just’ export markets to be exploited but places to be partnered with.