Penny Mordaunt discusses increasing trade with Commonwealth
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Britain is looking to strike an agreement with countries already worth over £33.1billion in trade and set to be boosted by a further £1.6billion a year following the deal. Negotiations between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, will be kick-started in Riyadh.
Only the US and China buy more UK goods and services than the GCC, making it a major market for British exports.
The GCC’s demand for international imports is also expected to grow by 35 percent, £800billion, by 2035, creating huge new opportunities.
Brussels previously sought to secure a trade deal with the GCC, opening discussion in 1990, but was ultimately forced to abandon hopes of an agreement 2008 after repeated failures to find a breakthrough.
Ahead of the talks, Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Today marks the next significant milestone in our five-star year of trade as we step up the UK’s close relationship with the Gulf.
“Our current trading relationship was worth £33.1billion in the last year alone.
“From our fantastic British food and drink to our outstanding financial services, I’m excited to open up new markets for UK businesses large and small, and supporting the more than ten thousand SMEs already exporting to the region.
“This trade deal has the potential to support jobs from Dover to Doha, growing our economy at home, building vital green industries and supplying innovative services to the Gulf.”
UK food and drink, manufacturing and renewable energy sectors are all set to benefit under the new pact.
Tariffs on produce such as cereals, chocolate, baking products and biscuits are set to be slashed.
GCC countries portaged £625million in produce from the UK last year, with the figure set to grow substantially once a trade deal is in place.
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The talks are the latest in a series of trade negotiations started by Ms Trevelyan.
The UK is already in discussions with India, Canada and Mexico about creating new trade deals.
Agreements with individual US states are also being brokered. The first, with Indiana, was confirmed last month.
Britain is also in the final stage of accession talks to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade pact between 13 countries that makes up 13 percent of the world’s GDP.
Ministers expect the UK to be approved as a full member by the end of the year.
Securing free trade deals with countries around the world has been a key part of the Government’s post-Brexit strategy for what has become known as “Global Britain”.
Deals with more than 70 countries have been agreed since the UK voted to leave the EU.
While many of these are rollover deals on the same terms as when Britain was a part of the trade bloc, some have been signed with improved terms or are new deals altogether.
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