Adam Afriyie, the MP for Windsor, has asked the Government a series of Parliamentary Questions concerning international trade to uncover what steps the Government is taking to prepare the UK for its departure from the European Union.
They have shone a light on a series of actions being taken by the Government to utilise technology and diplomatic relations to promote international trade and enable businesses to make the most of the new opportunities that withdrawing from the European Union’s Customs Union will bring.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment he has made of the level of business interest in the great.gov.uk digital platform?
Graham Stuart (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for International Trade): Great.gov.uk is a digital platform with a suite of digital tools built to help UK businesses expand their reach overseas and secure their place on the global stage.
UK and overseas marketing activity and DIT’s commercial partnerships are used to promote the platform.
In the 14 months since great.gov.uk was launched in November 2016, great.gov.uk has been visited by nearly 2.8 million unique users. Of these:
- The Invest tool, which promotes the UK as an obvious destination for inward investment, has received over 764,000 online visits with over 1,200 enquiries
- The Export Opportunities tool has received over 67,000 responses from UK businesses to 13,000 published export opportunities, which have been gathered and published by our network of in-post Embassy and High Commission trade experts, as well as overseas partner stakeholders
- The Trade Profile tool has published over 2,600 verified UK business profiles, presenting them to a wide network of prospective overseas buyers and partners
- The Export Readiness tool, which went live in December 2017 and helps UK businesses see how export-ready they are, and presents them with tailored information has already been used by 710 companies.
Activity is planned to promote this platform further to the UK and overseas businesses.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in Commonwealth countries on future trade and investment between the UK and Commonwealth countries?
Graham Stuart (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for International Trade): My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade regularly engages with his counterparts from Commonwealth countries, including at recent bilateral meetings at the 11th WTO MC11 Ministerial Conference meeting on 11 – 14 December 2017 and at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting on 23 – 26 January.
Given the importance we place on increasing intra-Commonwealth Trade and Investment and the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, the Secretary of State and the Ministerial team will continue to have these discussions.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans his Department has to increase the efficiency of customs clearance processes.
Mel Stride (Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General): The new CDS (Customs Declaration Service) will replace the current customs declaration computer system (CHIEF) in January 2019. CDS will provide businesses engaged in international trade with a robust, modern and flexible customs declaration service.
‘The Customs Future Partnership Paper’ published on 15 August 2017 sets out the Government’s aspirations for future customs arrangements with the EU. The two new models proposed are:
- A highly streamlined customs arrangement
- A new customs partnership with the EU
The precise nature of any new customs arrangement will be determined in negotiations with the EU.
The MP for the Windsor constituency, Adam Afriyie welcomed the answers:
“These policies come from a Conservative Government that is on the side of ambitious and optimistic businesses, looking to enhance our trade with every corner of the globe once we have left the EU’s Customs Union.
“Britain has a profoundly dynamic business culture: always looking for new deals and nimbly finding niches in domestic and foreign markets. We are much better suited to our own, independent, trading relations compared to part of an enormous bloc with conflicting internal trading priorities.
“There are boundless opportunities after Brexit, but none of these will be presented on a plate. Instead, it will require a lot of hard work and innovative thinking from the government to develop an efficient customs process, use all of our networking and soft power connections and develop technological tools to enhance the ability of business to seek out opportunities abroad.
“It is quite clear that only the Conservatives can provide the sort of leadership and innovative thinking needed to ensure that Brexit is a success.”
Note to editors
- Adam Afriyie is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana.
- He has a strong background in science, technology and innovation.
- He is currently Chairman of the Fintech APPG, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF).
- He was shadow Minister for Science from 2007-2010 and has a background in the information services and technology sector.