Liam Fox – 2018 Speech at CHOGM

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, at CHOGM on 16 April 2018.

Good afternoon, and welcome to this ‘Investing in the UK’ event.

It is a pleasure to have so many of you attending today.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is, first and foremost, a forum of cooperation and a chance to strengthen our partnerships with friends and allies.

This event is, then, a welcome opportunity for me to talk exclusively about the strengths of the United Kingdom!

As Secretary of State for International Trade this is something that I’ve had the opportunity to practice all over the world, from Sydney to Vancouver, from Bangkok to Bogota – and everywhere in between.

Fortunately, it’s a message that I’ll never get tired of delivering.

For some less well-informed investors, the economy of the UK begins and ends in London.

There is no denying that our capital is one of the great global cities.

It is the world’s foremost financial centre – a hive of commercial activity unrivalled anywhere in Europe with an economy roughly the size of Sweden’s.

Moreover, it is a city that continues to be at the cutting edge of new industries. Take, for example, technology.

Last year, new tech companies were founded in London at the rate of one an hour.

In that same period, more tech venture capital was invested in this city than in Germany, France, Spain, and Ireland combined.

I could go on about the merits of London. But the department I lead has a remit covering the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is tasked with spreading the prosperity and opportunity of international trade across the whole country.

Moreover, today’s event is designed to showcase the vast commercial prospects that exist both inside and outside our capital.

Few people realise that almost 80% of the UK’s GDP is generated outside London.

The UK remains the number one destination for inward investment in Europe, with an open, liberal economy, a flexible and dynamic labour market, business-friendly taxation and regulation and a strong, transparent rule of law.

Fundamentally, the UK is a safe and stable economy in which to invest, with a proven track record of returns for our global partners.

I’m delighted that we are joined today by a panel of six recent investors in the UK, hailing from across the Commonwealth, who will share their experience of doing business here.

You will hear their stories of successful investments across the country, including:

Seqirus from Australia, whose centre of excellence in Liverpool has created 100 new jobs in developing a new flu vaccine.

South Africa’s Fair Tree Capital, whose hotel portfolio spans South West England and the Lake District.

And Royal Enfield Motorcycles, whose new technology centre in Leicestershire involves significant UK-India cross collaboration on engineering and design.

Added to this, I am delighted to announce that India’s Wadhawan Global Capital will invest £300 million into the UK over the next few years, supporting 1,000 jobs.

This is just one of 55 potential deals that we have identified across 17 Commonwealth member states, collectively worth over £1.5 billion, and creating some 5,800 jobs.

I very much look forward to learning what Wadhawan’s plans are during the fireside chat later in this session.

Our panellists’ businesses are part of an extensive pattern of investment that exists between the UK and the Commonwealth.

In the 2016/17 financial year, there were 384 new FDI projects in the UK from Commonwealth investors – 17% of the overall total.

These created almost 10,000 new jobs across the country and safeguarded a similar number.

The importance of our Commonwealth partners to the UK economy cannot be overstated.

India is the fourth-largest source of UK FDI, just behind the United States and China.

In turn, India comes just ahead of Australia and New Zealand, which together have overtaken Japan to land 127 new projects in the UK.

It is no wonder that 2016/17 was the most successful year for FDI in this country’s history, given the strength of our regional diversity.

By this I don’t mean the bewildering array of accents and cultures spread over this small island, but the regional expertise that exists to support certain industries.

Wales, for example, has recently seen a £3 million investment from the Melbourne-based life science firm Medical Ethics.

The company cited the UK’s proven capacity to provide the expertise required to commercialise their technology, including regulatory affairs, manufacturing and clinical studies.

Tax subsidies and patent incentives were also a contributing factor, giving the UK a competitive edge when compared to other locations around the world.

Meanwhile, South West England boasts strong links with the aerospace and nuclear industries, with the presence of Rolls Royce and Airbus, as well as the new reactor development at Hinkley Point, creating a highly skilled local workforce.

The South East is home to globally renowned film studios at Pinewood and Leavesden, while Cambridge and East Anglia plays host to ‘Silicon Fen’, as well as Europe’s most important life science and research clusters.

It also hosts Motorsport Valley – a globally leading cluster of high-performance technology, motorsport and advanced engineering companies that includes the majority of the world’s Formula 1 Teams.

The area also contains Silverstone race circuit – familiar to many as the home of the British Grand Prix.

Most importantly, the UK’s two flagship regional economic development programmes – the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse – are having a significant impact on Britain’s regional prosperity, creating a wave of new commercial opportunities.

The Midlands is now home to the largest number of medical technology companies in the country, with eight world-class research universities combining their collective excellence to drive cutting edge innovation, research and skills development.

And the Northern Powerhouse has brought together the great cities and towns of the North of England to form a global hub of advanced manufacturing and energy capability.

We have the National Graphene Centre in Manchester.

We have Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre; the home of Boeing’s new high-tech component manufacturing facility – much praised when I visited Boeing’s Headquarters in Seattle last week.

And we have the National Innovation Centre for Data, which opened in Newcastle last year.

These regions were the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. Now, once again, they are world leaders in science, industry and technology.

And let’s not forget Northern Ireland, with its burgeoning machinery and engineering sector.

Or Scotland, which is leading the world in the uptake and development of renewable energy.

With all of these, I hope I have given you a flavour of the vast opportunities that are available in this county and inspired you to look to London and beyond for your investment.

My Department for International Trade is committed to ensuring that the UK continues to be a global leader in attracting foreign investment.

Earlier this month we launched our new FDI strategy, designed to focus our efforts on maximising wealth creation across the whole UK, and to transform DIT from one of the most respected investment promotion organisations in the world, to the most sophisticated.

Our three-part approach will make innovative use of data in measuring the economic impact of projects.

It will identify those opportunities across the UK with the greatest potential for international investors.

And it will target government support precisely where it will have the greatest positive impact on the economy.

DIT, together with our overseas business partners, intends to fully realise the potential of every part of the United Kingdom, and build a more prosperous future for Britain, the Commonwealth, and the world.

Now, I’m sure you’re all as eager as I am to hear from our panellists, but first, I have the great pleasure of introducing the Lord Mayor of London.

For more than eight centuries, the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation have been London’s beating commercial heart.

They have been instrumental in the City’s success and have forged its international reputation.

This afternoon, we have the pleasure of his views and experience on the almost limitless investment opportunities that London has to offer.

Lord Mayor – welcome.

Liam Fox – 2018 Speech in Hong Kong

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, in Hong Kong on 21 March 2018.

Good morning to everyone.

It’s a real pleasure to finally be here, at the start of the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong.

For myself and the members of my team who have travelled from the UK, it almost seems surreal that this fantastic showcase is finally upon us. And a huge thank you to all of our people here from the UK and Hong Kong who have made this happen.

For me, this festival offers an opportunity to look far into the future, exploring the technological developments that will unite the UK and Asia, and shape the world economy for up to a century or more.

Innovation is, of course, a key focus of ours. My department was created in order to shape an independent trade policy for the United Kingdom, our first for more than four decades.

A 21st Century trade policy must embrace the realities of the modern trading environment, and that means protecting, promoting and celebrating innovation.

But the location of this festival lends it an extra significance.

Hong Kong has always been one of my personal favourite cities – a global commercial hub that possesses a unique blend of drive, energy and dynamism.

Of course, this city has, for centuries, been Britain’s gateway to Asia.

Of course, we are not here to dwell on the past. But the ties of history and language that are shared by the UK and Hong Kong have put opportunities ahead.

Our shared history is the preface of to our shared future. Now, the IMF predicts that, in the next two decades, 90% of global growth will be generated beyond the borders of the European continent.

Much of this will be driven by the Asian economies, where new markets are growing to meet their own innovation revolution.

The next few years will offer a golden opportunity for the UK to work with our partners across Asia to drive innovation and shape the future of global trade.

The UK has the experience and capability in key industries – from technology and finance to education and healthcare – that make us the natural partner for the region’s burgeoning economies.

This festival is hugely symbolic. Why? Because it comes at a time when the UK is seeking to deepen our trading ties with partners across the world.

This not only applies to those emerging economies that will be the drivers of global economic growth, but also to long-established partners and friends with highly developed and complementary economic structures.

And of course, Hong Kong is foremost among these.

We have chosen to hold the GREAT Festival here in Hong Kong because our trading relationship with this city is, I believe, a model for the UK’s future trading partnerships.

Both the UK and Hong Kong believe that agility and adaptability are the keys to an effective trade policy in an ever-changing and evolving global environment.

And this approach is at the heard of what the Prime Minister has described as a truly ‘Global Britain’. We won’t be less engaged, but more engaged as we leave the EU, deploying the determination that Britain has always had to promote our values and help shape the global environment in our fast-changing world.

Governments must be able to act quickly and effectively to changes on the ground, ensuring that new industries do not mean new barriers to trade but effective and efficient policy tolls to deal with them.

The Strategic Dialogue with Hong Kong was one of the first of our new measures to be launched following the creation of DIT.

We are already holding meetings, at official and ministerial level, to identify and remove those non-tariff barriers which currently impede trade flows between our two economies. Because there is much we can do, and businesses already do, to liberalise our trading practices without undergoing the process of negotiating a full free trade agreement.

What underpins this is the recognition that we share values, goals, and a mutual commitment to global free trade, and built on that commonality.

Earlier this year, I travelled to Davos in Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum.

The event was, as ever, extremely productive, and an invaluable opportunity for businesses and policymakers to come together and shape the future of global trade.

In that respect, it is a lot like particular showcase – the GREAT Festival of Innovation.

But the WEF also emphasised, to me, how unnecessary some of the perceived complications around global trade liberalisation really are.

A Free Trade Agreement is, of course, a fine achievement for both parties, and should often be pursued as the ultimate goal.

But it is simply too broad to be the first or only approach to bilateral trade liberalisation. Often, barriers can be lifted more quickly with an incremental approach which identifies existing common ground – the ‘low-hanging fruit’, if you like, of trade relations.

There is no greater defender or advocate for the rules-based global trading system than the United Kingdom and multilateral agreements remain the gold-standard of trade liberalisation. Hong Kong is a strong and valued ally in this cause.

Yet it is also true that the system possesses an inherent inflexibility. Too often, formalised policy frameworks have been left standing by progress and innovation, and by the technological developments that have accelerated globalisation.

Let’s just think of the one great change we have witnessed – the development of the digital global economy. It’s hard to imagine now when it didn’t exist.

In the UK alone, the digital economy supports around 1.4 million jobs, and the sector is growing 32% faster than the wider economy.

In 2015, global e-commerce sales surpassed $25 trillion.

Yet there exists no formal international framework governing these vast trade and capital flows.

Of course, you do not need to hear this from me. Many of Asia’s most distinguished and innovative digital companies are here with us at this festival – one of the reasons we chose Hong Kong in the first place.

Many of you might assert that your industry is doing just fine, having reached all its achievements without any multinational governance whatsoever.

But any such measures would be designed not to stifle innovation, but to enhance it.

But these disrupters are the Darwinians drivers of our economy. We all know the benefits that technology can bring to consumers and citizens.

And, I want to see a wider discussion around how technology can help governments to facilitate trade and lead effective policy development.

Later this morning, we will have a panel discussion on ‘The Future of Free Trade’.

Much of the talk around the future of trade is focussed on the ‘trade disruptors’. These new technologies and industries are at the forefront of the shake up the global economy and are reshaping the way we approach international commerce.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to help shape trade legislation must ask ourselves how we can harness the power of innovation to enhance global opportunity and build a more prosperous future for us all.

So technology may be a disruptor, but it is also a facilitator.

One small example is my own department’s trade platform online –

Government is using digital innovation to directly put exporters in the UK in contact with potential customers overseas.

Similarly, by the same route, companies in Asia and around the world can access a searchable directory of British exporters, allowing them to quickly source their ideal product.

It is a small but important step towards government embracing technology as a way to facilitate more traditional trade.

But if we really want to harness innovation to open global trade, we must look at the transformative effect technology has had in lifting the burden of bureaucracy from certain industries.

Now take personal finance, just as an example. Twenty years ago or more, if you wanted to take out a loan, you had to walk into a bank for a face-to face discussion with the manager.

For those of you, remember what it was like, armed with your employment and income details, it was up to you to persuade the bank that you were able to repay the money borrowed.

Today, you can take out a loan at the touch of button, or a tap of a smartphone screen you can achieve the effect.

This is not because finance has somehow become less complex. Arguably, people’s personal finances and credit scores are more convoluted than ever.

Rather it is because technology has removed the bureaucratic burden from the customer, and even from the bank manager, and delegated it to an algorithm.

Even in medicine – my own profession in which I began my working career – patients can be assessed, and prescriptions issued through an automated online service.

The fundamental contribution that technology has made to human existence has been to make complicated things simple. It probably says something about our nature that the history of innovation is a long string of labour-saving devices for us.

And if technology can make paying your tax or booking a holiday more efficient and accessible, then why can’t it do the same for exporting?

A bilateral or multilateral free trade agreement is, fundamentally, an attempt to make the system less complicated. It is an admirable an important goal and one which we must pursue with vigour at all time.

But as well as making the world less complicated, we should also recognise that technology can be used to ease to improve the conditions of the people within the economic system.

We cannot forget that innovation also has the potential to unlock vast swathes of the global economy, especially in the developing world.

For years now, millions of Africans have been using mobile phone banking, in lieu of a reliable system of high-street institutions – an early innovation often overlooked outside the continent.

E-commerce has also helped to neutralise at least to some extreme the barriers of geography and infrastructure that have sometimes stifled new ventures in undeveloped nations.

And by allowing economic activity to take place within the home, it continues to emancipate women in particular across the globe into the world of work – entrepreneurism at the click of a mouse.

But, as well as addressing the wider questions of technology and international trade, the GREAT Festival of Innovation also has a narrower and more immediate focus: the vast opportunities that exist between Asia and the United Kingdom.

Our country has a richly-deserved reputation for excellence in innovation and technology.

The UK boasts some 58,000 technology firms. In the last year, more venture capital in tech came to London than in Germany, France, Spain and Ireland combined.

In many areas, the research and development capabilities of the UK have put us at the cutting-edge, creating the technologies of the future.

In Bristol close to where I live and represent in parliment, a company called Graphcore is developing the next generation of computer processors.

In Exeter, the Centre for Graphene Science are developing self-powering wearable tech that will allow electronic devices to be woven directly into clothing – not that far away from the images the young people were telling us about.

And in Cardiff, the Compound Semiconductor Catapult is leading the way to find a high-capacity replacement for silicon chips.

These companies are being aided in their endeavours by a government that is committed to technology and innovation.

Our business-friendly regulatory environment and the lowest corporate tax rate in the G20 have helped to propel us to 1st place in Forbes’ Best Countries for Business survey.

Our Industrial Strategy is ensuring that the investment, resources and infrastructure are in place to help innovators to thrive in every corner of the United Kingdom.

And our ambition to build a truly global Britain is allowing UK companies to trade more freely than ever with our partners across Asia.

Let me give you just one local example – the UK company OC Robotics are working here with Dragages Hong Kong to provide remote access technology for the construction of the undersea road tunnels between the mainland and Hong Kong International Airport.

This is what is at the heart of the GREAT Festival of Innovation.

The UK may have a lot to offer, but so does Asia especially Hong Kong. The festival is not about selling our products to Asian markets though we don’t mind if we do, but about building relationships and collaboration.

The partnerships between UK and Asian firms that will be established at this festival and the networks that we build will shape the future not only of the UK, Hong Kong, and Asia, but of the world.

The festival will showcase the very best of British and Asian innovation in how we will learn, how we live, how we work and how we play in the future, across multiple sectors.

We are here not only to celebrate what we have, but to build a network that will drive innovation, develop new technology, and determine the future of global trade.

We are at a truly exciting moment in history. We want to hear your opinions on global commerce, and learn from your expertise to unlock the opportunities of free and open commerce.

If we innovate together, we can achieve so much.

So, let’s discover the future. Let’s create tomorrow.

Thank you.

Liam Fox – 2018 Speech on Britain and America

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, on 16 March 2018.


It’s a pleasure to be here at Thomson-Reuters with our close friends at British American Business – an organisation whose very existence is testament to the close and enduring ties between our 2 countries.

And, as always, it’s great to be in the United States, a country with which the United Kingdom has so much in common and shares such a strong and enduring bond.

If you read some sections of the international press, it might seem as though the UK is entering an economic meltdown, with uncertainty around the Brexit process driving commerce and investment away from our shores.

It is an interesting hypothesis, but unfortunately for those commentators, one refuted by simple facts.

In 2017, we saw the highest level of foreign direct investment projects landing in the United Kingdom in our history – hardly the hallmark of an economic slowdown.

This was matched by an increase of some 14% in the value of our exports.

In the year to October 2017 some £617 billion of British goods and services were sold overseas, narrowing the UK’s trade deficit by just under £11 billion.

Partly as a result of this improved export performance, order books for British manufacturers are stronger than at any time since August 1988.

We also saw a continued explosion of interest in British tech and innovation.

The UK boasts some 58,000 technology firms. In the last year, more venture capital was invested in London than in Germany, France, Spain and Ireland combined.

All of this adds up to an extremely positive picture for the British economy – an economy that already boasts record employment levels.

Many of these are down to the record number of new investment projects that I mentioned earlier.

These have contributed almost 108,000 new and safeguarded jobs to the UK employment market in 2016/17.

My Department for International Trade regularly surveys the largest foreign direct investors in the UK economy.

The fundamental reasons they give for investing in the country are always the same.

We have a highly skilled workforce, produced by some of the world’s finest universities.

We have a low tax, well regulated economy which fosters innovation and supports tech start-ups, and we have world-renowned legal system and protections for intellectual property.

Like you, we speak English. We are in the right time zone to trade with the Asia in the morning and the United States in the afternoon.

Those tech companies I mentioned earlier are reassured by our robust intellectual property laws – fundamentally, companies across the world trust the UK to protect their investments.

Our success does not, of course, mean that there won’t be challenges ahead. And I appreciate that firms often crave continuity, and Brexit of course represents a break with the past.

But the referendum result was not a signal of impending insularity.

Rather, it was driven by the democratic principle that laws governing your life should be made in your own country, by people you have elected – a principal that you, our American cousins well understand.

So I want to inject a note of reassurance and optimism. Britain is not turning away from the world. We are not turning away from Europe either – or the economic, political or personal bonds that have evolved over centuries.

All we are doing is leaving the European Union.

Brexit will open far more doors for Britain than it closes. For the first time in more than 4 decades, we will have an independent trade policy, that we can shape to meet the needs of our businesses, and those of our partners operating on UK soil.

It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the UK to tap into the changing realities of global trade and ensure our future prosperity.

In 2006, around 60% of the UK’s exports went to other EU countries. By 2020, this is predicted to fall below 40%.

Cooperation and alignment will continue where necessary, but we should also strengthen our ties to our most important global trading partners, including the United States.

The UK intends to be a global champion of trading freedoms, working both unilaterally and within international bodies such as the WTO to erode and remove barriers to trade.

Free trade is fundamentally beneficial to mankind. And there’s a good reason for us to believe this.

Both our countries have benefited enormously from open, capitalist economies. We are standing in one of the greatest cities on earth – built on the back of business, commerce and trade.

The core insight of capitalism is that competition drives improvement and if competition is so good, why would you stop it at your border?

History tells us that, when we trade more and welcome competition, we find that we all benefit –individuals, companies and countries.

It benefits us as consumers to get more choice.

It benefits industry as a whole – competition encourages innovation.

And it has wider benefits. Britain and the United States have the world’s 2 largest foreign aid programmes.

But as generous as they are, free markets have lifted more people out of poverty than every aid programme and charity combined.

According to the World Bank the years 1981 to 2011 witnessed the greatest reduction in poverty in human history – it is no accident that those were the years when China opened-up and the Soviet Union fell.

Of course, free trade does not mean trade without rules. It is entirely legitimate for states to take measures to protect against unfair dumping from abroad – we’re currently taking a Trade Bill through Parliament that will protect our ability to do just that.

But in the long run, it is better for everyone involved if we resolve disputes multilaterally – that’s why we called for the G20 meeting in November at which this issue was discussed.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with the United States and our allies around the world for co-operation on issues of mutual concern.

Make no mistake – trade with America is one of Britain’s top priorities. How could it not be, when America is our single largest export market? Exports to America are twice those to Germany, our next largest market.

That is why we are investing so much effort here: my department, the Department for International Trade, has staff in 11 locations across the United States.

We are making as a government, up to $7 available billion in export finance for companies trading here.

And we are working closely with the American government.

Our joint Trade and Investment Working Group has been discussing issues such as encouraging small business exports, the technical transfer of existing EU-US agreements, and cooperation on financial regulation. It will hold its third meeting later this month.

And we’re partnering on technology. American firms will be crucial to the success of a future British spaceport, and we are following up this month’s successful multilateral space forum by sending teams to major industry events such as the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

In September we signed our first ever Science and Technology agreement, which began with us putting £65 million into a project at South Dakota to explore the physics of the early universe.

So Britain is not turning inwards. We will have an independent voice at the World Trade Organization, and we will use that voice to push for more trade, more openness and a deeper and stronger liberal trading system.

We will continue to have areas of policy where our interests coincide with the EU but we need to be free to pursue our own national interests where they differ.

And because we believe in free trade, our interests are not in opposition to other countries – trade is not a zero-sum game.

Open trade with Britain is in America’s interests and we have hundreds of billions invested in each other’s economies, maintaining jobs across both our nations.

British companies create more jobs in America than firms from any other nation. In fact, UK companies employ over a million people in America and US companies employ over a million people in the UK.

Trade and investment flows benefit both countries, I believe that politicians and business leaders in America appreciate this fact, judging by the number of positive comments about UK trade from members of Congress from both parties that I met yesterday in Washington.

As you would expect, one of the reasons I’m in the US is to talk about steel. We are, of course, disappointed by the recent decision to raise import taxes on steel and aluminium.

And this is an issue the Prime Minister and I have both discussed with the administration on a number of occasions.

I am confident that, together, we will find a solution that reflects the reality of the strong national security and trade relationship that exists between the UK and the United States, and indeed between the wider EU and the United States. A solution that preserves the economic, commercial and security interests of us all.

My department is helping to emphasise to political leaders across the US just how valuable those mutual interests are.

Last year we published an analysis of the importance of UK trade to every single congressional district.

For example, in the New York Tri-State area including Pennsylvania goods exports to the UK are worth approximately $7.8 billion a year.

Service exports to the UK are approximately $15.1 billion.

And 1,873 UK companies employ around 224,000 American citizens.

To put it simply, our economic relationship is invaluable.

The commercial bonds between the US and the UK are strengthened by cultural and personal ties.

800,000 of our citizens live in each other’s countries.

We speak the same language, almost – remember that there’s no other country America can trade with that has as many native English speakers as the UK.

We are one of the few major economies to use the same legal system as you, or vice versa depending on your view of history. That makes things easier when you choose to invest.

But it’s important we maintain those links – we cannot afford to let them atrophy under any circumstances, politics or economics.

That is why I am here this week. And that is why I’d like to thank British American Business for all the work you and your members do to cultivate these vital links.

Britain and America are an outstanding partnership, and what we have done together has truly shaped the world.

Thank you.

Liam Fox – 2018 Speech on UK Exporters

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, on 8 March 2018.

Good morning.

It’s a pleasure to be here today at the British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference, and a privilege to be invited to address the representatives of some of this country’s most distinguished businesses.

For more than a century and half, the constituent chambers of the BCC have protected and promoted Britain’s businesses.

In all that long history, the chambers have always been resolutely outward-facing, and eager to support global ventures.

And that expertise is especially valuable at this pivotal moment for our country.

If you read some of our national publications, you could be forgiven for thinking we were about to enter some kind of economic black hole. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are seeing record foreign direct investment here in the UK; and our outward direct investment stock is now at £1.2 trillion, bringing prosperity at home and abroad.

Our country’s traditional strengths are prospering just as much as our new ones. We’re seeing record tech start-ups – 8,000 in the last year; but manufacturing order books are also well above their long-term trend.

Our employment levels are at an all time high and our exports of both goods and services are booming as an increasingly large global middle class is able to access the high quality products that Britain has to offer.

Investors continue to show their confidence in the UK. When we ask them why they choose the UK they tell us that our legal system is second to none, we have a skilled work force, a low-tax and well-regulated economy, cutting edge tech, some of the world’s best universities, we speak English and we are in a great time zone for global trading. Some black hole.

In fact, it is a time of historic opportunity.

There are great prizes for our economy as we leave the EU in this era of globalisation, if we have the courage to grasp them.

In fact global trade is leading our economy forward: exports rose by over 11% last year, 6 times faster than the economy as a whole. They reached well over £600 billion in 2017 .

The EU will always be a very important part of that, and this government has been clear that we want a deep and special partnership with the EU.

But we cannot let the practices and patterns of the past constrain the opportunities of the future.

In just 10 years the proportion of our exports that go to the EU has dropped by 11 percentage points.

And this is not a one-off change. Over the next decade or so, 90% of global economic growth is expected to be from outside the EU.

That could be reinforced as a higher proportion of trade comes from services, and transport costs for goods decrease: both of these trends could reduce the importance of geographic distance.

In my speech at Bloomberg last week, I spoke about how patterns of global trade were changing, and how shifting global prosperity will change the pattern of demand for goods and services.

I will not repeat all the arguments here. But if you consider the fact that, by 2060, there are predicted to be 1.1 billion middle class Africans – all demanding luxury food, cars, consumer goods and services – then you can begin to glimpse the potential that the future holds.

And London is the global financial centre with the closest time zone to the African continent, and therefore a natural choice to finance this growth.

China is another example. Because the Chinese economic phenomenon is now 40 years old it’s easy to become inured to the statistics, and forget how vast this opportunity is.

But every year China adds an economy the size of Switzerland to its GDP.

By 2030 China will have 220 cities with more than a million people. The whole of Europe will have 35.

Last month the Prime Minister and I went to China, for me the second visit in a month. While I was there I met the mayor of Wuhan, a city of which few in Europe have heard. Yet it has a booming economy and a population larger than London. It’s this kind of dynamism the UK can tap into.

No one knows the capability of British businesses better than you. Our firms are world-leading repositories of talent, knowledge and expertise.

But the government is not complacent here; and we can never rest on our laurels. We are building the economic base that will help our country compete on the world market.

Our firms lead the world on innovation, research and the deployment of new technologies. Nonetheless, we have committed to raising the proportion of our GDP spent on research and development to 3%, which would put us in the top quartile of OECD countries.

And UK businesses have unbeatable offerings on healthcare, infrastructure and education, that have enabled us to build a trade and development programme that is the envy of the world.

Nonetheless, our modern Industrial Strategy is making sure we have the right infrastructure, market frameworks, skills base and business support to build a strong economy.

My department is also working with businesses across the country to increase exports and investment.

Many are members of the British Chambers of Commerce. Some are represented here today.

They are the wealth-creators of society. Everything that my department does is designed to help them in that role.

Department for International Trade advisers based in 108 countries around the world are providing targeted support for those high-value export and investment opportunities that contribute the most to the UK economy.

And DIT also has an extensive range of resources available to SMEs and new exporters.

In 2016 to 2017 UKEF provided £3 billion in support, helping 221 UK companies sell to 63 countries around the world. 79% of these companies were SMEs.

And we are currently piloting a new Global Growth Service, increasing our support for those medium sized businesses with international ambitions.

I understand that elements of DITs offer to companies is remarkably similar to Export Britain – the BCCs own online resource.

This allows us almost unlimited scope to work together.

And of course, DIT will forever be indebted to the BCC for the tireless work that you have done for the UK’s exporters.

Today is, of course, International Women’s Day. One of this gathering’s key themes is diversity in business, and I am pleased that the BCC takes gender equality as seriously as the government.

I am proud to lead one of the best-performing departments in Whitehall when it comes to women in senior roles.

But there is more to do, and the British government is committed to achieving gender equality at all levels of society, and in all walks of life.

Internationally, we have championed the cause of e-commerce which offers unique opportunities for women, including those in the developing world, to have a future in the global economy.

It is a future that we all want to see.

But this country is also facing a wider choice about its own future.

Because we should not just be looking to maximise our existing opportunities – not when the pattern of global trade is due to change so significantly.

We have to look for and create new opportunities.

So our approach should not be premised on simply identifying how much of our current relationship we want to keep, but what we need to prosper in a rapidly changing global environment.

Before leaving the European Union, the UK’s trade policy is centrally coordinated from Brussels, exclusively in the interests of the EU.

Soon, we will have more control over our own economic and political destiny than at any time in the past 4 decades.

This government, and the Department for International Trade, is clear about the kind of Britain that we want to build.

We want a Britain that is open to the opportunities of the world – a country that treads a path to prosperity based not in protectionism, but in openness and economic cooperation.

It is a vision that is, I believe, shared by many of you in this room.

And it’s a vision that can be shared by many overseas, if we have the courage to embrace the opportunities of the future.

We want to maintain our existing links with partners outside of the EU.

We’re negotiating our new schedules at the WTO. We’re working to roll-over existing EU trade agreements – and we’re taking the Trade Bill through Parliament to give us the powers we need to do that.

But we also want to sign new agreements with key partners.

And we also want to use this opportunity – a seat at the international table for the first time in 40 years – to instil our values in the international system.

Regulation is a good example of this. Thanks largely to the WTO’s success in lowering tariffs, technical and regulatory barriers to trade have become comparatively more important.

Yet too often regulatory reform is presented as simply lowering standards.

This is a straw man invented by those who take a generally anti-trade view. No-one wants a regulatory race to the bottom – least of all the UK, where our comparative advantage lies in quality not price.

It’s not about high regulation versus low regulation, but good regulation versus bad regulation. Often you can achieve the same aim from regulation through a different route.

For example, cars made under EU and US regulations have similar safety records, despite very different standards.

That’s why we should move away from regulatory identity and towards regulatory equivalence – starting, as the Prime Minister said last week, with our future trade relationship with the EU.

If we can get likeminded countries to follow our lead, the opportunities are enormous – they would increase growth in our trading partners and therefore increase demand for our goods and services.

For me, the firms represented by these chambers are a source of inspiration.

Time and again, they have proved themselves infinitely adaptable.

Time and again, they have proved that they are forward-looking, and willing to rise and meet the challenges and prospects of a new era.

Time and again, they have driven this country to new heights of wealth and prosperity.

We are on the verge of a bright, prosperous future. The opportunities are there for the taking. We need only the courage to seize them.

Thank you.

Liam Fox – 2018 Speech on the UK’s Trading Future

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, at Bloomberg in London on 27 February 2018.

Thank you Constantin for the introduction. And thank you to Bloomberg for hosting us in these wonderful surroundings. It is a pleasure to be here today to talk about Britain’s trading future.

The historic decision by the British people to leave the European Union has presented this country with a number of choices about its future global direction.

It has generated a great deal of soul-searching and caused a number of important questions to be aired. Some of these relate specifically to the referendum decision itself, others are questions which needed to be addressed anyway but have been brought into sharper focus by that decision.

Where do we see our place in the world? What sort of economy and what sort of country do we want to be?

What should our influence be in global affairs and global trade?

How will we generate the income we will need to ensure a prosperous and secure future for the generations that come after us?

Since the referendum vote and the creation of the Department for International Trade, my ministerial team and I have undertaken over 150 overseas visits, to all parts of the globe, to old friends and new allies alike and to markets large and small.

From across the world, the keenness to deepen trade and investment ties with this country and once again hear us champion the case for free trade, is palpable.

And why should that surprise us?

The United Kingdom is one of the world’s largest and most successful economies. We are at record levels of employment.

Our success is underpinned by a legal system whose reputation is second to none.

We have a skilled workforce and a low tax and a well-regulated economy.

We are home to some of the world’s finest universities, our research and development capabilities are cutting-edge and our financial institutions world-leading.

We are in the right time zone to trade with Asia in the morning and the United States in the afternoon, and, of course, we speak English, the language of global business.

In 2017, we saw the highest level of foreign direct investment projects landing in the United Kingdom in our history – as the world’s leading companies offered a strong vote of confidence in the future of our economy.

This was matched by an increase of some 11% in the value of our exports. In 2017, £617 billion of UK goods and services were sold overseas, narrowing our trade deficit by just under £7 billion.

The second half of 2017 also saw strong growth in manufacturing output.

Partly as a result of this improved export performance, order books for British manufacturers remained well above their long-term average. This is testament to the hard work and dedication from British businesses up and down the UK.

We also saw a continued explosion of interest in British tech and innovation. In the last year we had more than 58,000 tech startups in our country and more venture capital in tech was invested in London than in Germany, France, Spain and Ireland combined.

All of this adds up to an extremely positive picture, one which should give us confidence in dealing with the global challenges that lie ahead and the opportunities that we must seize.

This confidence is key to being able to take advantage of a dramatically shifting picture around the world where previous assumptions are being challenged, where influence is moving and where huge new markets are blossoming.

I often repeat the fact that the IMF estimates that, in the next 10 to 15 years, 90% of global economic growth will originate from outside the European Union.

This is not to diminish the importance of Europe as an economic market and partner, but merely to point out the scale of the shift in global economic activity so that we are orientated towards the most income generating parts of the global economy.

The thriving economies of south and east Asia and, increasingly, Africa, are, and will become, even more important as their newfound prosperity drives demand for the goods and services of the developed countries prepared to interact with their markets.

By 2020 China’s middle class is expected to number 600 million, and by 2050 Africa, on its own, will represent 54% of world population increase. By 2030 China will have over 220 cities with a population greater than 1 million people. The whole of Europe will have 35. And on top of the vast Asia-Pacific growth it is predicted that there will be 1.1 billion middle class Africans by 2060.

Such a shift, not just in global demographics, but in the rise of the collective wealth of developing countries, will determine where the golden opportunities of the future will be and where we must be too.

Markets are already out there for the best that Britain has to offer. I see it on every overseas trade visit I make.

For UK export goods from top-end fashion to high-quality cars to Scotch whisky to high-end manufacturing, the demand is growing.

For professional services too, from accountancy to law or education or life sciences or financial services, these newly emergent middle classes will need more of the skills where we are already world class.

It is here that we will find the United Kingdom’s unique comparative advantage.

We must, as a country, set our sights on this future.

We have to take a long-term view.

And our future must be global.

Because the pattern of our trade is changing.

57% of Britain’s exports are now to outside the EU, compared with only 46% in 2006. What is more, while our EU exports are still dominated by goods, our non-EU exports are evenly split between goods and services.

Our approach should not be premised on simply identifying how much of our current relationship we want to keep, but what we need to prosper in a rapidly changing global environment.

We cannot let the practices and patterns of the past constrain the opportunities of the future.

We require an economic outlook that allows us to take advantage of the substantial opportunities that Europe will continue to bring but without limiting our ability to adapt to a changing and growing world beyond the European continent.

The UK is perfectly placed to partner with the economic powerhouses of the future, and they in turn are eager for the mutual prosperity that such a partnership would bring.

To do this, we need the ability to exercise a fully independent trade policy. We have to maximise our overall trading opportunities for the UK and secure the prosperity of our people.

Now, in the first speech I gave as Secretary of State for International trade, I set out Britain’s proud tradition of defending both the concept and the practice of free trade.

Time and again, studies have found evidence of a strong positive correlation between economic openness and growth.

During the 1990s, per capita income grew 3 times faster in the developing countries that lowered trade barriers than in those that did not. That effect is not confined to the developing world, either. The OECD Growth Project found that a 10 percentage increase in trade exposure was associated with a 4% rise in income per capita. In other words, free trade works.

Globalisation has been of huge and sustainable benefit to the world economy, including through trade, specialisation and innovation.

Increased competition, economies of scale and global value chains have all contributed to a productivity revolution, boosting the output of businesses across the globe.

And when free trade agreements are reached, the positive effect on businesses, industries and economies can be remarkable.

The EU/Korea free trade agreement, which came into effect in July 2011, is just one example. In the year before the deal was agreed, the UK beer and cider industry sold almost nothing to Korea; exports were under £2 million.

By 2017, however, sales to South Korea have exploded to over £93 million.

Free trade can be particularly important for developing countries, as they gain access to new cutting-edge technologies and millions more consumers of their goods.

As the world’s emerging and developing economies have liberalised trade practices, prosperity has spread, bringing industry, jobs and wealth where once there was only deprivation.

According to the World Bank, the 3 decades between 1981 and 2010 witnessed the single greatest decrease in material deprivation in human history. A billion people were taken out of abject poverty in one generation. That is why it is morally unthinkable to reject free and open trade.

And it’s not just in markets overseas that the benefit from free trade, we also feel them here at home too.

Although it might not always be noticed, the wider benefits of a liberal trade policy are shared by consumers and households across this country, by providing a wider choice of goods at a lower price.

It provides supermarkets with the ability to sell us a full range of foods all year round. It enables electronic retailers to sell us increasingly sophisticated technology at lower prices – from TVs to computers to mobile phones. All this helps incomes go further.

For example, in the decade to 2006, the real import price of clothing fell by 38%, a real help for families with children.

But more than lower prices, open markets allow consumers the ability to choose where they source their goods to ensure sustainability and the propagation of our wider values, including our environmental agenda and maintaining the highest standards in the food we can buy.

As with many freedoms, free and open trade can be taken for granted.

But the reality is that these freedoms and the benefits that they bestow have been hard-won and have to be continually defended from the siren-call of protectionism and the anti-trade lobby.

This is why our vision for a post-Brexit Britain is one of leadership.

The UK is already a committed member of the World Trade Organization – a body which is the home of the international rules-based trading system that we support.

Currently, our direction and action within the WTO is determined by our membership of the EU.

But soon, the UK will regain the full authority of independent membership.

We will establish our own trading schedules.

We are taking the necessary steps so that, on leaving the EU, we will accede to the Agreement on Government procurement.

And we will begin to exercise our independent voice.

The UK stands ready to offer clear leadership, to be a staunch defender of trading rights and freedoms, not only at the WTO, but at other international bodies too.

Moreover, we can help forge the way on the liberalisation of those areas of global trade where the WTO and other bodies have yet to extend their reach; services, digital trade and the knowledge economy.

The digital economy is growing 32% faster than the wider economy and creating jobs three times more quickly. Digital trade is inherently transnational, and e-commerce offers previously unknown opportunities for SMEs and individuals, particularly women, to take part in the globalised economy.

In many areas of this important agenda, the EU has not kept pace. There is a real opportunity for the UK to become a global leader in digital trade.

If we are to lead, then we must ask ourselves what leadership looks like.

As I alluded to earlier, part of the failure of current trading practices has been their rigidity.

There is a tendency among some nations to cling to the ‘known’ trading mechanisms more suited to the structures of the past than the digital age of the future.

Flexibility and agility, then, are the key to any future trade policy. The ability to react quickly to new developments, to explore new opportunities and to nurture fledgling industries will be the key to growth and prosperity in the coming years.

That is why my department is pursuing a more flexible approach to our country’s trading future.

There is a growing awareness that a full-blown, gold-plated free trade agreement may not be the only solution in a fast-changing global economy.

Fortunately, there is a global ‘toolbox’ from which we can choose the most appropriate mechanisms for liberalising trade.

These range from being key members of multilateral agreements, to mutual recognition agreements and the sort of outcome-based equivalence approach recently advanced by the governor of the Bank of England.

We will consider multi-country alliances of the like-minded, right down to bilateral arrangements, using all the advantages available from our diplomatic network to the system of Prime Ministerial Trade Envoys.

All these options are available but only to countries with independent trade policies.

In the 20 months of DITs existence, this work has begun in earnest.

We have opened 14 informal trade dialogues with 21 countries from the United States to Australia to the UAE.

These will lay the groundwork for future FTAs, but will also work to identify those non-tariff barriers to trade that can be removed earlier.

We have begun appointing a new network of Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner’s based in market, able to maximise exports and investment, free from centralised Whitehall targets.

With a presence in 108 countries and working across government, DIT is a fully integrated trade department bringing together investment, export promotion, export finance and trade policy.

We are currently piloting a new Global Growth Service, increasing our support for those medium-sized businesses with international ambitions.

And DIT also has an extensive range of resources available to SMEs and new exporters.

For example, UK Export Finance has been recognised as one of the world’s most innovative and flexible Export Credit Agencies.

Last year UKEF provided £3 billion in support, helping 221 UK companies sell to 63 countries around the world. 79% of these companies were SMEs.

Our cutting-edge digital platform,, was launched in November 2016, and has since been visited by over 2.8 million users. And we are reviewing our wider strategy on exports and investment, including undertaking an Exports Strategy review, working alongside the Industrial Strategy, to identify what more we can do to help exporters large and small across the whole of the UK to maximise their export potential.

We are working hard to create the right framework for business, and especially our small and medium-sized businesses, to enable them to make the most of their innovation, ingenuity and expertise that are the cornerstone of our economy.

But what does all this mean for our future relationship with the European Union and beyond?

For those firms that trade with the European Union, keeping all of the EU’s regulations, the Customs Union, the Single Market and the external tariffs sounds like an easy option.

But we cannot allow our future to be determined by our past. Instead, we should turn our sail and tack into the global trading winds of the future.

We should fully exploit our own natural advantages to unlock the vital prosperity we need.

We should be able to offer better preferential agreements and work more closely with a range of developing countries.

And we should build a trade policy that works for the long-term interests of businesses, citizens, and future generations.

Disadvantages of remaining in a customs union

There has been much debate in recent days about the EU’s customs union.

As we are leaving the European Union, necessarily, we cannot remain in the Customs Union which is open only to EU member states. The alternative has been proposed that we enter a new customs union with the European Union. But what would this mean?

First of all, for goods, we would have to accept EU trade rules without any say in how they were made, handing Brussels considerable control of the UK’s external trade policy.

Secondly, it would limit our ability to reach new trade agreements with the world’s fastest-growing economies. And thirdly, it would limit our ability to develop our trade and development policies that would offer new ways for the world’s poorest nations to trade their way out of poverty.

And what would a customs union actually consist of? Which sectors would be covered? Would it be like Turkey which has a customs union but only for industrial goods and some agricultural products?

Whatever it covered, should such a customs union be negotiated, we would be forced to allow goods from other countries into our market tariff-free, on terms set by Brussels, without any tariff-free access to the markets of other countries in return. And, if we were to disagree, Brussels could simply overrule us.

Those on the political left who opposed TTIP the agreement between the European Union and the United States might want to consider that in a customs union, they would have to implement any elements of TTIP, whether they like them or not, in any sectors covered by a customs union.

As rule takers, without any say in how the rules were made, we would be in a worse position than we are today. It would be a complete sell out of Britain’s national interests and a betrayal of the voters in the referendum.

Then there is the issue of constraints on the ability to negotiate independent trade arrangements. A customs union would remove the bulk of incentives for other countries to enter into comprehensive free trade agreements with the UK if we were unable to alter the rules in whole sectors of our economy, as Turkey has now discovered.

The inevitable price of trying to negotiate with one arm tied behind our back is that we would become less attractive to potential trade partners and forfeit many of the opportunities that would otherwise be available to us.

And then there is a question of our ability to help developing countries in a way that we would like. Not only does the EU have a high average external tariff – 5.1% compared to the US 3.5% – but it continues to operate tariffs in a way that particularly disadvantage countries who want to add value to their primary commodities and move up value chains.

As we leave the EU we are committed to maintaining preferential access for developing countries.

Outside the Customs Union, we would have the freedom to expand access and tackle barriers to trade to enable poorer countries genuinely to trade their way out of poverty and become less dependent on our aid budgets. Many NGOs who look to Britain to take the lead in this area would find their aims frustrated by membership of a customs union.

Remaining in a customs union of any type would only make sense if we were to abandon our global ambitions and limit our abilities to shape our trade policy to the changes in the global environment that I have outlined.

Tomorrow’s choices would be constrained by today’s status quo. We would deny ourselves the opportunity to shape Britain’s place in the future world economy and our ability to influence the direction of that economy itself.

Of course, the government’s aim is to ensure that UK companies, as well as those from abroad, retain the maximum freedom to trade with and operate within European markets.

We want European businesses to do the same in the UK. That is why we want to develop customs arrangements which lead to trade being as frictionless as possible at our borders, in a tariff-free environment, with as few non-tariff barriers as possible.

And on Northern Ireland, it is, of course, as precious a part of our United Kingdom as any other, so it’s vital that it has a full share in our future prosperity and our opportunities as a trading nation. The avoidance of a hard border in Northern Ireland is of crucial importance, as is the prevention of trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

We believe that a comprehensive and liberal trading agreement with the EU is the best way to deal with the crucially important issue of avoiding that hard border.

Britain has vigorously supported the trade agreements reached between the European Union and countries such as Canada and Japan. We have done so because we believe in the principle of free trade but also because we believe it is the best way to increase the prosperity of the people of Britain and the rest of Europe.

We believe that the same principles should apply to the agreement between the UK and the EU itself as we move away from the political constraints of the union.

We do so as one of the world’s largest economies with a strong alignment to the EU.

We understand that outside the EU we will no longer have influence in the Council of Ministers, the Commission or the European Parliament, where EU rules will be made.

But it would not be in the interests of the EU or the UK to introduce unnecessary restrictions on trade and investment across the European continent, and it would send a signal to global investors that Europe was less open for business than it is at present.

We want an economically vibrant EU to be a major partner for the future in a deep and special partnership.

Our negotiations must be focused on delivering a partnership that will support the prosperity, stability and security of UK and EU citizens.

And it will need a bespoke relationship. We are not Canada or Norway or Switzerland.

We are Britain, and what’s more we want to be a truly global Britain.

A global Britain with ambitions to maximise our trade opportunities both inside and outside the EU.

A global Britain that wants the freedom to work with global partners.

And a global Britain which seeks to minimise any barriers to trade because it all comes down to flexibility and agility in what will be an increasingly competitive global economic environment.

The UK must regain the ability to negotiate our own trade arrangements with our own partners.

To surrender this would be to endanger not only our long-term prosperity and the innovation and dynamism that will ensure that Britain remains a leading economic power, but also our ability to influence this new trading landscape in a way that reflects UK values and interests.

We have been given an historic opportunity to re-orientate our economy.

We will have to ensure that we put the prosperity, stability and security of our people first, but we must also remember that history, experience and values are vital navigational tools and that confidence, optimism and vision will always deliver more than pessimism or self-doubt.

The prize at stake is not simply the future prosperity of the United Kingdom but our ability to participate in and shape the world economy at one of the most exciting and important points in history.

It is about moving away from the concepts that defined our activities in the 20th century to new ways of viewing the opportunities of the 21st.

It is about breaking down barriers, opening up markets and providing opportunities so that the benefits of free trade can be enjoyed not only by the next generation in this country but so that some of the world’s poorest can share in the fruits of our prosperity.

We are at a crossroads with a historic opportunity to help shape our global future for the better.

We have a duty to grasp it.

Liam Fox – 2018 Speech on Manufacturing

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, at the EEF National Manufacturing Conference on 20 February 2018.

Good morning.

It is a great pleasure to be here with you all at the EEF Manufacturing Conference.

In the course of my job as Secretary of State for International Trade, I have been invited to address representatives of all of Britain’s major industries.

Each has their own innovators, and each of them has a number of world-leading companies, breaking new ground and raising this country’s profile overseas.

None of them, though, boasts quite the same concentration of talent, of drive, and of cutting-edge technology as manufacturing.

And few other industries are doing as much to enhance the UK’s global reputation.

Since the Department for International Trade was created in July 2016, the ministerial team and I have conducted around 150 overseas visits.

Everywhere we go, the British manufacturing stamp is a kitemark of quality, innovation, and world-leading technological advances.

Our industrial heritage, of course, plays no small part in this.

But all too often we encounters the lazy assertion that ‘Britain doesn’t make anything anymore’.

How many here today have, like me, gritted their teeth when confronted by such ill informed negativity.

So let’s today send out a loud and clear message that British manufacturing is not only alive and well but capable, cutting-edge and confident.

Those of us familiar with the UK’s manufacturing capabilities know that the United Kingdom is one of the largest manufacturing economies in the world, with nearly £270 billion in exports.

It would be nice to see more of this reflected in our media.

Last year saw a particularly robust performance, with manufacturing growing by 2.8%, compared to 1.8% for the economy as a whole.

We’ve had the longest period of consecutive monthly manufacturing growth for 30 years, and order books for British manufacturers are well above their long term trend.

And this in an economy that has record levels of employment and saw the highest FDI in our history in 2017.

The mills and foundries of the last century may have largely disappeared. But in their place has emerged an industry built upon expertise, research and development, fuelled by a world-class education system.

Sheffield, for example, is a city long famed for the quality of its steel.

Now, Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has built Europe’s largest aerospace castings facility, and is producing some of the biggest castings in the world today.

This is just one success story among many. The sheer diversity of businesses represented in the UK is testament to this.

From automotive and aerospace, to energy and engineering, the UK offer is as diverse as it is deep.

The advent of digitalisation, the adoption of automation, and an increasing pressure on companies to create more energy-efficient products is driving a revolution in global manufacturing.

British companies are at its forefront.

The UK composite materials sector, for example, predicts that the UK domestic market will grow 6 times by 2030, to some £12 billion, driven by the need to develop lightweight structures for energy efficiency.

In aerospace, the government has worked in partnership with UK primes and tier 1s to identify new supply chain opportunities for fuel systems and cockpit assemblies.

And last year, the automotive sector manufactured more than 2.7 million engines in the UK.

Car production remains one of the prides of British manufacturing. Last year, around 15% of the total UK r&d spend was generated by automotive companies.

Firms like Nissan, who have announced another £250 million investment in their Sunderland plant, are here because of that access to new technology and industry developments.

It is small wonder that, in 2017, a new car rolled off a British production line every 19 seconds.

The government is keen to further its support for critical, cutting-edge technologies.

We have committed to raising the UK’s r&d spend to 3% of GDP, putting us in the top quartile of OECD countries.

This has been backed with substantial government support.

Many of you will be familiar with the £246 million Faraday Challenge, designed to boost the development of the next generation of battery technology.

We have also committed £100 million of spending for connected and autonomous research and development for the automotive sector.

And, together with the aircraft industry, we have devoted a combined £3.9 billion towards aerospace r&d.

This level of government support is unprecedented. It demonstrates a real and sustained commitment to attract the right investment in the right areas, in line with our Industrial Strategy.

Indeed, manufacturing courses through the Industrial Strategy, whether it’s our ambition for pharmaceutical production in the Life Sciences Sector Deal, or the vision for advanced manufacturing in Juergen Maier’s Industrial Digitalisation review.

So does trade, with the Industrial Strategy keeping us at the forefront of crucial areas of comparative advantage, such as clean growth, artificial intelligence and the automotive industry.

But we shouldn’t be surprised that trade and manufacturing are central to our plan to improve productivity, when manufacturing productivity has been growing up to 3 times faster than the wider economy and the 9% of businesses that export play such a central role in our productivity growth.

Our approach is already paying off. Companies like Airbus, who are jointly investing with the government to create a new research facility in the South West, are continuing to show their confidence in the strength of the United Kingdom.

As the MP for North Somerset, I particularly welcome Airbus’s expansion in the South West. Their new wing-testing centre near Bristol will serve as an innovation space for supply chain companies across the region. It has also cemented the UK aerospace industry as the second-largest in the world.

Investments such as these demonstrate the high esteem in which British manufacturing is held around the world. But as well as attracting inward investment, my department stands ready to ensure that this capability is shared beyond the borders of the UK.

Time and again, research has shown that companies which export their products are more profitable, resilient and productive.

In short, exporting can increase your bottom line, driving up profits which then in turn allows businesses to invest more.

It is a virtuous cycle, which can be kicked off by the right government support.

My department’s ultimate aim is to open up the world’s fastest-growing markets for UK companies.

Soon, for the first time in more than 4 decades, we will be able to develop a trade policy framework that works, first and foremost, for the UK economy, UK firms, and UK citizens.

Already, we are laying the groundwork for new trading relationships with countries across Africa and Asia.

Many of these economies will be the drivers of global growth in the 21st century. In fact, the IMF projects that 90% of global growth in the next 10 to 15 years is likely to come from outside the EU.

As their people become more affluent, and their domestic industries more mature, demand for British manufacturing expertise will grow exponentially.

We know that the UK is in a unique position to partner these countries, and that our manufacturing firms stand ready to help realise their ambitions.

Already, my department is deploying our extensive overseas network, stretching across 108 countries, to seek opportunities and provide in-market support for UK firms.

This network is being bolstered by 9 HM Trade Commissioners to promote UK industry abroad. I was delighted to recently announce our commissioners for South Asia, China and North America: Crispin Simon, Richard Burn and Antony Phillipson.

These new Commissioners will lead our overseas teams, and will develop a regional trade plan that will set out the priorities to be delivered across export promotion, investment and trade policy. They will have more autonomy to do what works best in their region to improve trade with key markets of the future.

And UK Export Finance is one of the unsung heroes of our economy, working to ensure that no viable manufacturing export fails due to a lack of financing or insurance options, so that once firms do decide to export, there are no unnecessary barriers in their way.

In the last financial year they made £3 billion available to help boost UK exports; at the same time we have seen exports of UK goods increase by over 11%.

And it’s not just for big business. Accessing government-backed export finance is faster and easier for SMEs than ever before.

As of October 2017, small and medium-sized businesses can get UKEF bonds and working capital support for up to £2 million in a matter of seconds directly from their bank, without having to apply separately.

But trade doesn’t just benefit exporters themselves.

Supplying to exporters allows smaller companies to access new markets and benefit from the worldwide demand for UK goods and services while they’re still growing. And the benefits from trade have positive spill-over effects across the supply chain.

Capital is the lifeblood of commerce. If companies can’t get export finance it doesn’t matter where along the supply chain it happens – it still clots. But if finance flows freely the benefits do not just accrue to those actually doing the exporting.

They circulate to their suppliers and throughout the economy, better practices and higher productivity from contact with overseas markets and better returns from selling abroad.

That’s why small UK businesses who are not yet exporting themselves, but sell to other UK companies that do, can now also benefit from UKEF’s trade finance support.

And that’s why in the 2017 Autumn Budget we announced a new supply chain product for exporters, which will help exporters access financing to pay their suppliers.

This allows smaller companies in exporters’ supply chains to receive early payment to support their cash flow, at the same time as giving the exporter time to pay for supplies of goods and raw materials.

UK Export Finance is here today: if you’re considering exporting, they could be the help you need to start selling overseas.

All of these innovations come, of course, at a time when we are seeking a new partnership with the European Union.

I understand that every business here today will be hoping for a glimpse of what this new relationship will look like.

I know that businesses value certainty and stability above all else.

I cannot comment on the negotiations that are still underway. I can, however, tell you that this government opposes erecting barriers to trade where none yet exist, or disrupting the commercial relationships that exist between this country and our continental partners.

I am currently taking the Trade Bill through Parliament, to give you the certainty you need that there will be a functioning trade regime on day one. The implementation period will also provide time to adjust, which manufacturers tell us they need.

Our Trade and Customs Bills will give us the powers we need to transfer the EU’s existing trade arrangements with third countries, which will allow us to protect your access to overseas markets.

They will also give us the tools we need to fight back against any unfair subsidies or dumping from abroad.

We are currently consulting on which of the EU’s existing trade defence measures we should keep. I want the interests of UK businesses and consumers to be foremost in the government’s mind, so I encourage you to contribute your views.

We want to protect the interests of British manufacturing. We want to maintain your access to markets across Europe, and beyond. And we want to ensure that the UK continues to attract the best and brightest talent from across the world.

I am greatly encouraged by new data from UCAS that shows a record number of European students applying to study in the UK’s world-leading universities, despite the dire predictions being made.

The UK will always be the finest place in the world to live, study, or do business.

Outside the EU we have now established a series of working groups and high-level dialogues with key trade partners from the USA to Australia and China to explore the best ways to progress our trade relationships for the future.

The efforts of the manufacturing industry have ensured that Britain will remain a world-leading technology hub far into this century.

We are a nation of innovators. And, as government and industry work together, we can build a brighter and more prosperous future, for the UK and the world.

So let’s talk up the success of a UK manufacturing sector that is not only investing and exporting, but is a confident and key player in building that more prosperous future.

There is a big world out there – and British manufacturing can lead the charge to ensure that the people of this country can take their rightful place in the global prosperity of the future.

Thank you.

Liam Fox – 2018 Speech in India

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, in India on 11 January 2018.

Thank you Richard [Richard Heald],

Honourable Minister Prabhu, distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to welcome you all here today, at the 12th meeting of the India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO).

I look forward to what promises to be an insightful discussion with business leaders of both countries.

I would also like to welcome Minister Prabhu to London, for his first visit as Minister of Commerce and Industry – and thank him for the fascinating and productive conversation that we have held.

I would also like to thank the chairs of the joint working groups on smart cities and advanced manufacturing and engineering. I look forward to hearing the outcomes from the business-led joint working groups shortly.

And I would particularly like to welcome the visiting delegation from Pune led by Municipal Commissioner Mr Kunal Kumar. I very much enjoyed my own visit to the city last year.

The United Kingdom is a champion of free trade – and it is the task of my department to work with our most important partners to remove barriers and promote commercial freedoms across the world.

Today is an opportunity for India and the UK to work together, not only to strengthen our own partnership, but to rise to meet the challenges of the future.

UK-India trade and investment

India and the UK are, in PM Modi’s own words, an “unbeatable combination”.

Both countries have a shared interest in each other’s prosperity, generating jobs, developing skills, and enhancing the competitiveness of the two economies.

Our vibrant business communities are instrumental in maintaining and strengthening the partnership between our two countries, building upon strong ties encompassing trade and culture.

Bilateral trade between the 2 countries has grown over the last 10 years and was £15.4 billion in 2016.

And trade grew by a remarkable 15% in the first 3 quarters of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016.

Our commercial links span a wide variety of sectors, from life sciences and medical technology, to food and drink, energy, defence and culture.

Our trade in services includes not only IT and professional services – but significant trade in financial services, with the City of London playing a key role in raising capital to support India’s infrastructure growth.

I was delighted to open the London Stock Exchange last year with Finance Minister Jaitley. Over 80% of masala bond issuances to date have taken place in London, to a value of more than $3.9 billion.

We also have exceptionally strong investment links. The UK has been the largest G20 investor in India over the last 10 years, more than any other EU country. There are over 270 British companies operating there, employing nearly 800,000 people.

The CBI estimates that UK companies are creating one in every 20 jobs in India’s organised private sector. This includes well known investors such as Vodafone, BP, HSBC, Standard Chartered, G4S and Unilever – but also new investors such as Dyson, who plan to launch their products in India in 2018.

I welcome yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Modi to further liberalise FDI policy, especially for single brand retailers.

And I welcome the reforms that Minister Prabhu and his team are taking to improve the ease of doing business in India – leading to a 30 point jump in the World Bank’s Index this year. The UK is proud of its partnership with India on the ease of doing business, including co-hosting a national conference in 2016.

With a vote of confidence in the unshakeable strength of the UK economy, India is also the source of significant investment and jobs in the UK.

In 2016, approximately 800 Indian companies were operating in the UK, accounting for around 110,000 jobs and recording combined revenues of £47.5 billion.

In the same year, India established 127 new investment projects in the UK, adding 4,000 new jobs and safeguarding more jobs than any other country.

What is particularly pleasing is the size and range of Indian investors who already consider the UK their home.

This includes well-known companies such as Tata Sons, owners of TCS and Jaguar Land Rover, Wipro, Infosys and Genpact alongside many others.

This government is putting its money where its mouth is in response to India’s technology investment demands. In 2016, I was delighted to attend the UK-India Tech Summit in Delhi, along with the Prime Minister.

The UK boasts some 58,000 technology firms. In the last year, more venture capital was invested in London than in Germany, France, Spain and Ireland combined.

And last November, with the support of the Indian High Commission and UKIBC, DIT ran the India-UK ‘Future Tech month’ where more than 60 of India’s most innovative tech companies and buyers criss-crossed the UK’s regional tech and manufacturing centres of excellence set out in the Industrial Strategy.

This will be followed by the UK-India Createch Summit in Mumbai.

People to people links

Our business links are strengthened by the people to people links between our countries – what Prime Minister Modi has described as a ‘Living Bridge’.

I noted with pride that 33 people of Indian origin were recognised in the UK’s New Year’s Honours list, including Professor Pratibha Laxman GAI who grew up in India and studied in the UK and went on to pioneer electron microscopy applications in chemistry.

Our 2 governments want to do more to encourage these innovative links between people and industry in both countries.

Ambitions for UK-India trade

All of this shows that we already have a strong base to build on.

However, Minister Prabhu and I both believe that there is scope for us to go further.

We share a vision for a deep and dynamic partnership in which the 2 governments and business work hand-in-hand to achieve shared prosperity for India and the UK.

In particular, as we leave the European Union, there is the opportunity for both countries to enhance this partnership – opening up new sectors for business and minimising barriers to trade.

The UK will deepen its support to India, helping the country continue its positive trajectory on ease of doing business. In particular, we aim to strengthen our relationships in the areas of energy, smart cities and financial services, whilst at the same time addressing the critical issue of skills.

And it is to help achieve this joint prosperity, that – at the 11th meeting of the UK-India JETCO in Delhi at the end of 2016 – we agreed to set up a new Joint Working Group on Trade.

We tasked this working group with identifying practical ways to broaden and deepen the trade relationship between both countries, both now and as we leave the EU.

The joint working group is therefore undertaking a joint trade review, an evidence-based assessment of the trading relationship, and the first report came back to Minister Prabhu and myself today.

The review, and its next phase, will provide an important platform, identifying those key sectors where more progress can most readily be made.

We also welcomed the news that UK Export Finance will increase its support for trade with India. This will provide an additional £2.75 billion in support for UK companies exporting to India and for Indian buyers of UK goods and services, and be available in Indian Rupees.


Minister Prabhu raised Indian concerns about last year’s changes to the UK’s Tier 2 visa route and I have heard feedback that business stakeholders have shared on this issue.

The UK issues more work visas to India than to all of the other countries in the world combined, and we will continue to welcome skilled workers to the UK.

We have to get the balance right and ensure the process is as transparent and smooth as possible.

Our Immigration Minister visited India in November to open a new visa application centre in Bangalore and today I am pleased that the UK government also welcomes India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiran Rijiju to the UK where he will meet FCO Minister Mark Field.


The kind of dialogue harnessed by these JETCOs provides an ideal opportunity for us to identify where UK-India collaboration can help continue this trend.

I look forward to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in April as a key opportunity to progress the UK-India trade relationship and boost intra-commonwealth trade.

With intra-Commonwealth trade in goods and services estimated at $687 billion and projected to surpass $1 trillion by 2020, we are committed to working with our friends and allies in the Commonwealth to remove barriers and liberalise the global trading environment.

India is home to more than half the population of the Commonwealth and we recognise the nation’s central role in reenergising the organisation. Now more than ever, it’s time for us to build on our links, to reject protectionism and insularity to embrace an interconnected world.

Final call to businesses

But to achieve a step-change in our trading relationship, your role – the role of business – will continue to be crucial.

My officials will be in touch over the coming months – however, in the meantime, I would like to issue a call to you, as those businesses who already have a lot invested in the UK-India relationship, to get in touch with the Department for International Trade.

We want to understand not only the challenges that you face in increasing trade and investment – but also to work with you to overcome them.

Your ideas today can become our policy tomorrow so, please, let us know what you believe the challenges and opportunities to be.

And by working together to meet these challenges, as governments, as business communities, and as people, we can build a brighter, more prosperous future for India, the UK and the world.

Thank you.

Liam Fox – 2018 Speech on Chinese and British Innovation

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, on 4 January 2018.

Thank you all for being here tonight.

This evening is an opportunity for Britain and China to come together. A chance to identify our shared ambitions, our mutual strengths and the opportunities we have to work together to shape the future of global trade.

But, first and foremost, we are here tonight to celebrate the upcoming GREAT Festival of Innovation.

The festival, which will take place in March just a few miles away in Hong Kong, will bring together some of the UK and Asia’s most pioneering companies.

It will be a gathering like no other – an opportunity to share innovations that will drive the future of free trade and for businesses to build lifelong partnerships.

It is this spirit of friendship and commonality that I wish to speak to you about tonight.

It is fitting that this evening we are gathered in Shenzhen, a city with innovation in its DNA.

Shenzhen, as the technological capital of China, is the engine room that will power China in the age of the fourth industrial revolution.

In a matter of decades, Shenzhen has transformed from a small fishing village into a dynamic and youthful city with a population of more than 11 million.

Much of this success has been down to this city’s dynamism, and its dedication to technical advancement.

With research and development investment accounting for 4% of GDP – double the national average – and patent applications standing at the highest in China for 10 consecutive years, it cannot be denied that we stand in a city that is unapologetically focused on the future.

Across this city, some of the world’s most talented minds are coming together to design tomorrow’s technology.

Shenzhen is a world-leading producer of drones, electric cars and DNA sequencing machines.

It is clear that this city has much to offer the world.

But I am here this evening to talk about what the United Kingdom can offer Shenzhen.

Yesterday, I had several hours of constructive and positive talks with Commerce Minister Zhong Shan where we discussed the opportunities that result from the complementary nature of our economies.

Technology is clearly one but there are others. Another lies in food and drink.

China will need to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of quality foodstuffs available for its growing population and especially its burgeoning middle class.

Britain will want to ensure better and more predictable incomes for our farmers as we leave the EU so that we can attract investment and improve productivity.

We must work together in the months ahead to ensure that we address any concerns that Chinese authorities have so that the Chinese people can enjoy the benefits that quality UK beef, lamb and poultry can bring. Our already growing exports of food and drink can improve further with the lifting of market access barriers.

There is a great opportunity to be ambitious about our future trading relationship to the benefit of both sides. We will continue to explore all our options together.

When the UK voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, there were many around the world that portrayed the result as a symptom of insularity.

They predicted that Britain would be turning in on itself, abdicating its international responsibilities and severing global ties.

I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

Instead, last year’s referendum vote to leave the European Union has offered us an unprecedented opportunity.

For the first time in more than 4 decades, we have the opportunity to forge new trading partnerships around the world, with old friends and new allies alike.

We are building a Global Britain – a country that champions commercial freedoms, prizes international talent, and helps the world’s most dynamic and innovative enterprises to reach their potential.

We want to see companies, like those that join us today, succeed. We want to see Shenzhen succeed.

As shown by figures from the Shenzhen Statistics Bureau, UK-Shenzhen trade is already worth more than US$6 billion a year and the UK is the largest EU source of Foreign Direct Investment to the city – with investments totalling around US$1.4 billion.

Likewise, the innovative firms that have made Shenzhen their home are growing their businesses in the UK, with Huawei alone employing more than 1,500 staff across the UK.

The UK and Shenzhen share common strengths. Fintech, information and communications technology, advanced healthcare, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing and clean energy are all industries in which we are both seeking to blaze a trail.

These areas of commonality mean opportunities for our businesses. Opportunities for UK and Chinese firms of all sizes to trade with one another, to share expertise and to secure investment.

Indeed this evening we’re very lucky to be joined by some of the excellent British food and drink manufacturers who are meeting the growing demand from Chinese consumers. If you haven’t done so already I would urge you to sample the delicious products being showcased today, including smoked salmon from H. Forman & Son, cider from Brothers, cheese from Somerdale, and ale from Badger.

In 2016 China became the ninth largest importer of British food and drink and early figures for 2017 show a move to eighth place.

Tonight, and all through the Great Festival of Innovation, we come together to fortify our bonds and fundamentally to support one another to achieve our ambitions.

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is our acknowledgement that our destiny lies not only in our valued friendship with Europe, but also the wider world.

Earlier I quoted some rather impressive statistics relating to UK-Shenzhen trade and investment. These figures, while heartening, fail to show the real impact and value of trade.

Trade and investment creates jobs, supports the livelihoods of real people, means the food and clothes that we buy in the shops are more affordable and that businesses can grow and thrive.

In short, it means for us a more prosperous Britain and a more secure world.

That is why, far from retreating from the world, we are extending the hand of friendship beyond the borders of Europe.

Being a globally minded country is in our very nature. We are in the right time zone to trade with Asia in the morning and America in the afternoon. We champion business-friendly regulation, are home to the world’s leading financial sector, are the number one destination for inward investment in Europe and boast some of the world’s best universities that bring students from across the world together.

In the first full year since the referendum we saw the highest number of foreign direct investment projects into the United Kingdom in our history, a 13.5% rise in our exports and record employment. A vote of confidence from global investors.

Last year our government launched a modern industrial strategy for the United Kingdom. It is a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.

It focuses on the 5 foundations of productivity: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places.

The strategy sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future and how we will respond to the technological revolution taking place across the world.

Technology will disrupt nearly every sector in every country, creating new opportunities and challenges.

We, like our partners in Shenzhen, are focused on seizing these opportunities. From the data-driven economy to the future of mobility, we want to back visionary businesses to make their mark.

As you will see there are many parallels between the United Kingdom’s modern Industrial Strategy and the new area strategy for Guangdong.

We both share the ambition of supporting our industries to be world leaders in research, manufacturing, life sciences and high technology.

We also have a shared understanding of the vital role that transport and infrastructure play in driving productivity.

While of course there any many ways in which our worlds differ, it is impossible not to be struck by the commonality.

That is why I truly believe the UK and the Greater Bay Area can and should work together to achieve these great aims and to be partners as we nurture innovation-driven economies.

The scale of opportunity for UK business to export to, partner with, and invest in this region is unrivalled.

My department, which is responsible for trade and investment, wants to offer more support to those UK companies who see China as their trading partner of the future, and to do more to engage with Chinese investors, encouraging them to take advantage of opportunities in the UK.

That is exactly why in March we will be hosting the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong. I hope many of you will be there joining hundreds of other international business leaders and investors.

The festival will showcase the very best of British and Asian innovations in how we will learn, live, work and play in the future across multiple sectors.

It will be a meeting of brilliant minds. It will provide an opportunity for British and Asian visionaries to forge new trade links and strengthen existing relationships.

The event will be the third in a series of successful GREAT festivals in 5 years, following the success of the GREAT Festivals of Creativity in Istanbul in 2014 and Shanghai in 2015, with the latter generating over £800 million in business.

I look forward to welcoming you all to the festival, to join the most exciting, dynamic and successful companies that the Asian tech sector has to offer.

I hope this evening I have imparted some of the optimism that my colleagues and I feel at this juncture in our history. It is a new, exciting chapter for the United Kingdom, but also for our valued friendship with Shenzhen and China. The opportunities and the prizes of the future are there to be shared together.

Thank you.

Liam Fox – 2017 Speech at WTO

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, at the WTO meeting held in Argentina on 11 December 2017.

Mr Chairman, I congratulate Argentina for hosting this conference so efficiently and so well.

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the signing of the GATT.

We have made many changes and great strides since then but we face constant challenges in keeping the multilateral system relevant.

What hasn’t changed over the decades is the United Kingdom’s unwavering support for free trade, for the multilateral trading system and for seeking continuous improvement in how we conduct global commerce.

I look forward to the UK taking a more prominent role in the WTO as we leave the European Union. And I pledge here to respect our existing WTO commitments and obligations to the WTO Membership as we leave the EU.

I see 3 priorities for us here in Buenos Aires.

First, we need to continue to promote trade as the main tool of development.

As the world’s developing and emerging economies have liberalised their trade practices, prosperity has spread across the globe, bringing growth, opportunity and stability where once there was only poverty.

In this regard, I strongly welcome the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement earlier this year.

The UK has programmed £180 million in supporting developing countries implement the TFA, between 2013 and 2022.

Second, I welcome the focus on digital trade here at MC11.

I believe that WTO Members must address digital trade issues, including through new rules. We should not wait any longer for ignoring the fast-changing digital landscape risks the credibility of this organisation.

We need to set rules for digital trade that deliver for developing and developed members alike. We need rules that offer the potential of greater participation by women in global trade. And we need rules that support e-commerce as a driver for economic growth. E-commerce and digital trade offer enormous opportunities for countries large and small, developed and developing – an empowering tool for women and SMEs in particular.

Our third priority should be regulation. As tariffs have come down and trade in services has increased, non-tariff measures are increasingly the main source of frustration for companies wanting to do business in other jurisdictions.

Predictability and access based on regulatory outcomes are what matter for businesses and consumers. There is much useful work we could be doing in this area, such as in domestic regulation on services.

Finally, to support us in this work, we need much better data on trade – data which truly reflects what is happening in the global economy where supply chains are increasingly complex.

I strongly support the joint work of the OECD and the WTO in the area of Trade in Value Added. The UK has been and will continue to be a leading voice on this issue.

I am hopeful we will look back at the time we have spent in this beautiful city as the moment when we acknowledged the need for increased urgency in our work. I am hopeful that this urgency will, in turn, lead to a new dynamism in our collective endeavour to update and strengthen the multilateral trading system upon which we all rely.

Thank you.

Liam Fox – 2017 Speech on Israel

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, on 10 October 2017.

Good morning.

It is an honour to be here today to address the Jewish Care business breakfast, and to join the distinguished list of speakers who have addressed this gathering.

Over the course of my career I have had the pleasure to speak at many charitable gatherings, for a wide variety of good and noble causes.

I’m not sure I have ever, though, addressed a charity which is as comprehensive in its philanthropy as Jewish Care.

And your organisation not only provides important care for the elderly members of the Jewish community, but also for those with dementia, disabilities, or mental health issues.

You even provide leadership opportunities for young people, helping them to develop vital life skills.

Before I entered parliament, I worked as a GP. I have experienced first had how much of a difference charitable organisations like Jewish Care can make, caring for the most vulnerable people in our society.

It is work that is, sadly, too often overlooked by those without direct experience of it. Yet charities can provide targeted care within communities, often reaching parts where the state cannot.

For those of you in a generous mood, there are few organisations more worthy of your munificence.

I know that you have not invited the Secretary of State for International Trade here to wax lyrical about the virtues of Jewish Care, or of charity in general.

But I do see a clear connection between trade and philanthropy.

Without the prosperity that trade engenders, charitable organisations could not flourish, yet there is also a more immediate connection.

The great rabbinical philosopher, Moses Maimonides wrote that:

The highest level of Tzedakah or Charity, is that which enables the recipient to become self-reliant.

For millions of the world’s poorest people, trade has meant exactly that.

As economies across the world have liberalised, opportunities for employment, or commerce, have lifted billions from poverty.

According to the World Bank, the three decades between 1981 and 2011 witnessed the single greatest decrease in material deprivation in human history – a truly remarkable achievement.

It is hard to imagine an international aid programme – even one as generous as our own – that would or could have been so effective.

It was no coincidence that this period coincided with the great liberalised economies of India and China opening up to the world.

At a fundamental level, free and open trade allows people to improve their own lives, allowing the individual to access global opportunities. It delivers employment, goods and services, often where they are needed most.

Across the world, trade has created prosperity, where once there was only deprivation.

Of course, the United Kingdom has benefitted vastly from centuries of trade, and its promotion comes with a degree of economic self-interest.

We must recognise, though, that there is also an equally strong social and moral case for the defence of trading freedoms.

And I say ‘social’ because whilst trade has delivered vast benefits to those in developing countries, it has also has a transformative effect on the lives of our own people.

Although it might not always be noticed, the wider benefits of a liberal trade policy have spread to British consumers and households by providing a wider choice of goods at a lower price.

Free trade is not only vital in ensuring that supplies of raw materials and everyday essentials like food and clothing are available in the UK; but it also increases the quality of those products, and helps to drive down prices.

In the decade to 2006, the real import price of clothing fell by 38%. In the same period, the price of consumer electronics, as we all know, fell by 50%, despite all the rapid technological achievements of that period, what went from a $4,000 brick called the mobile phone at that time turns into a super computer in the palm of your hand at a fraction of the price. That is what liberal and open trade can provide.

As a consequence, living standards in this country are now at their highest level in history.

Yet ‘Free Trade’ as a concept is often regarded with suspicion or simple indifference by consumers, who often fail to see how it can make a difference to their lives.

I believe that open, liberal free trade is undeniably a good thing.

It is unfortunate, though, that trading freedoms can no longer be taken for granted.

Last year, the Word Trade Organization estimated that the growth in global trade could be as little as 1.8%, falling below the growth in global GDP. This is the inverse of the normal relationship and it’s unhealthy, history tells us in the long term.

Moreover, research by the OECD that shows that protectionist instincts have grown since the financial crisis of 2008.

In 2010 G7 and G20 countries were operating some 300 non-tariff barriers to trade – by 2015 this had mushroomed to over 1,200.

So clearly, free trade is in need of a champion. The case for commercial freedom must be made at every level.

To consumers we must show that, when a foreign company invests in your area and creates jobs – that is free trade.

When you use a smartphone or a flat-screen TV at a lower price – that is global free trade.

Or when you go to a supermarket and you buy your fruit and meat and vegetables you want all year round, rather than relying on our own seasonal produce – that is global free trade in action.

These benefits often go unrecognised, even at an official level.

Last Spring, I was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, at a meeting of trade minister from the world’s major economies.

It was a full 54 minutes – just shy of an hour – before a single one of the world’s trade ministers said the ‘C-word’. Consumers were never mentioned at that meeting. We have got to also champion the consumer interest and such a state of affairs illustrates perfectly that a wider recognition is needed of the benefits that free trade can bring to ordinary people.

Those who shape international trade policy must no longer see commercial freedoms solely as a means of reaching a narrow macroeconomic advantage, but as a force for social and geopolitical good.

Those countries, like the United Kingdom, who have benefitted the most from free trade, cannot, in good conscience, pull up the drawbridge. There is a moral obligation to pass on the benefits of free trade to our less developed partners, allowing them access to our markets, or our skills and our expertise.

Such a policy would benefit all of humankind.

My Department for International Trade was founded last year to make Britain a global champion of free trade once again.

We are in a unique position to use our economic and diplomatic influence to extend and protect commercial freedoms across the world.

Of course, as a department of state of the UK, our primary purpose is to ensure that global trade bestows its benefits on Britain.

Our vision is of a UK that trades its way to prosperity, stability and security, and our mission is to help businesses export, drive investment, open up markets and champion free trade.

Liberalisation of the global economy is firmly within this country’s interests, and we are ready to take advantage of the historic opportunities that have been presented to this country.

Our departure from the European Union after some 44 years of membership will bring challenges. Yet it will also offer almost limitless possibilities.

For the first time in more than four decades this country will have a fully independent trade policy, to be shaped to best serve the interests of British consumers, British businesses, and the British economy.

The potential of this should not be underestimated. The trading bloc of the European Union has served parts of our economy well, but it is a model that is fundamentally outdated in the age of globalisation.

New technology has reduced the barriers of distance and time, and being tied to other nations simply through geographical proximity is no longer necessary especially in an economy like the UK, which is now 80 % services. The British people have opted not for insularity, but internationalism.

We will soon be in a position to revitalise our existing trade relationships, and to build new connections with those growing economies that will drive prosperity in the 21st century.

Don’t believe me, go and look at the EU’s website. The EU trade page says in the next 10 to 15 years 90% of global growth will be beyond the borders of Europe. That is where we need to be.

To ignore such possibilities would be a great disservice to the British people.

This vision of the future is central to the government’s ambition to build a truly global Britain.

This is about building a country that is a bold, outward-looking champion of free trade.

The UK will lead the defence of the rules-based international system as a newly independent member of the WTO, while forging agreements with partners across the world.

The state of Israel will, of course, be a key partner in that future.

As a longstanding friend of the Israeli people, I was delighted to attend the Tel Aviv in London festival last month.

I was struck by the many similarities between the two cities, not only in their formidable international reputations for technology, innovation and financial services, but in the vibrancy of the culture that we share.

These parallels are indicative of the complimentary nature of the Israeli and UK economies. It is a strong foundation from which to enhance our future relationship.

The UK is already the number one destination in Europe for Israeli investment, with over 300 companies already operating here.

Yet there is more to be done and more to be achieved. One of the things that I am proud of in my department has been the creation of a UK-Israel Trade Working Group, designed to identify and remove barriers to trade between our two countries. This will not only strengthen our bilateral relationship, but provide a strong foundation for further progress upon our exit from the EU, as well as providing greater prosperity, stability and security in Israel itself.

And this is one of the themes that we have across our government because trade is not only done for itself; it provides a prosperity which underpins social cohesion.

That social cohesion helps in turn to underpin political stability and that political stability is a contribution to our wider security.

All of them are parts of a continuum which cannot be disrupted, which is something that both the UK and Israel understand well.

In the extensive travels undertaken by myself and the other departmental ministers in the past 15 months, I have been struck by the sheer level of enthusiasm that exists across the world for Britain’s new role.

Nations are not only lining up to enhance their trading relationship with our country, but also to access our wealth of talent, knowledge and expertise.

Our global brand remains incredibly strong. People want to ‘buy British’ and they want to partner British as well. Globally the commercial prospects for this country have never been brighter and we must embrace them with confidence and optimism.

We are opening a new chapter in our nation’s history, but the story has not yet been written.

I believe that politics is a binary choice. You can either shape the world around you, or you’ll be shaped by the world around you.

The United Kingdom has the ability to shape the world – all we require is the confidence to do it.

My department stands ready to help shape the future of global trade, placing Britain back at its heart.

Free trade may be a centuries-old concept, but it is also the key to projecting this country’s prosperity far into the future.

Sir Winston Churchill once called free trade “a condition of progress”. Once again, the great man’s words have stood the test of time.

It is incumbent upon all of us to defend that progress.

There will be challenges ahead, but we have the ability, the vision and the determination to shape the future as we see fit.

We are not passengers to our own destiny. We can make change happen if we choose to do so and change we will.

Thank you.