Wednesday 31st January 2024

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Written Statements
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Secretary of State for Business and Trade (Kemi Badenoch)
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Today, the Department for Business and Trade will be publishing an update detailing the wealth of Brexit benefits the Government have seized since the UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020.

Since the UK’s departure from the EU, this Government have cut burdensome red tape for business. We have built dozens of trading relationships with new friends and old allies. And we have taken back control of our laws, borders, and tariffs. This new-found agility was crucial in helping us get through the pandemic with the fastest vaccine roll-out in Europe—which in turn allowed us to reopen our economy even sooner.

Where some predicted decline for Britain’s economy after Brexit, the UK has shown expansion.

Since the referendum in 2016, the UK has grown faster than Germany, Italy, and Japan and at a similar rate to France. Our services exports are at a record high of £472 billion and the IMF predicts that between 2024 and 2028 the UK will see the third fastest growth in the G7—stronger than France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Through Brexit, the UK is capitalising on its economic might, while the Government deliver real, tangible benefits not just for British business but for the British people, too.

We have simplified import tariffs on almost 6,000 goods. Our UK global tariff is lowering costs for both businesses and households. And we have made it easier and cheaper for developing countries to sell to the UK—lifting people out of poverty abroad and lowering prices at home without compromising on quality.

The UK now has a little under 50% of products that are tariff-free compared to the EU’s 27%.

We have also knocked down approximately 500 trade barriers since 2020, including in the US—our single largest trade partner. We have signed memorandums of understanding with seven US states while agreeing quotas for British steel and aluminium—boosting exports and supporting 80,000 jobs across the UK supply chain.

No longer bound by EU state aid rules, we are driving growth in our coastal communities through our freeports programme. In Teesside—the UK’s biggest and first operational port—our tax reliefs, business rates retention policies and investment are helping to generate millions for the local economy while creating thousands of new jobs.

The Government are leveraging our post-Brexit freedoms to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

We have already revoked or reformed over 2,000 pieces of EU law with a clear road map to go further.

At the same time we are making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises—which account for over 99% of UK businesses—to raise finance while simplifying annual leave and holiday pay, and reducing onerous record-keeping requirements under the working time regulations.

Brexit has allowed us to undertake one of the largest shake-ups to procurement rules in this country’s history. Our new procurement regime means a simpler, more effective system, helping SMEs secure a greater share of approximately £300 billion of expenditure every year.

The update we are publishing today also shows that, in addition to delivering for British business and the British people at home, we are delivering for them abroad, too.

The Department for Business and Trade has negotiated free trade agreements with 73 countries from Mexico to Malaysia. We have secured the most comprehensive deal that the EU has ever agreed to in its history. These countries accounted for £1.1 trillion of our trade in 2022 alone.

Our trade deals with Australia and New Zealand—the first to be negotiated from scratch after Brexit—are helping home-grown companies break into new markets on the other side of the world, with the potential to bring in billions of pounds of new investment for the UK.

Our digital agreements with Singapore and Ukraine—regarded as blueprints by other nations striking similar deals—will boost our trading relationships in the digital economy and services sectors by extending market reach and ensuring the secure, tariff-free flow of digital content.

The UK will also shortly be joining the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. It will make over 99% of UK goods eligible for zero tariffs in the Asia-Pacific’s most dynamic economies.

This year, the Department for Business and Trade is seeking further deals with more fast-growing economies including the Gulf Co-operation Council and India.

We will cement global Britain’s status as an outward-looking, international trading powerhouse, redrawing the rules so businesses can thrive, markets are competitive and consumers are protected.

We will drive further investment from British and international businesses into our economy while strengthening our advice and support for home-grown companies looking to grow and export.

Over the coming year, we will continue to open up new markets for business, promoting free trade, economic security, and resilient supply chains as core pillars of the UK’s trade policy.

We are sticking to our plan to deliver the long-term change our country needs and build a brighter future for the United Kingdom, seizing the many opportunities and benefits Brexit has afforded the British people.