Exporters set out priorities for new PM

The UK's leading international trade body has set out a four-point plan it says the new prime minister must adopt if the vision of a 'Global Britain' is to be realised.

rishi and liz

Rishi Sunak takes part in the first leadership debate Rishi Sunak takes part in the first television Conservative leadership debate hosted by Channel 4

The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) has written to the two contenders to become the next prime minister – Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak – asking them to prioritise trade agendas should they be successful in reaching No 10 in the vote to be announced on September 5.In a letter to the pair, Marco Forgione, director-general of the institute, sets out four priorities that he says are “vital for transforming the UK, delivering the levelling up agenda and meeting the aspirations of Global Britain now that we are out of the EU Single Market and Customs Union”. Based on consultations with many of the institute's 7,000-plus members, the IOE&IT demands include the creation of a cross-government International Trade Committee to oversee better co-ordination on post-Brexit Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).Mr Forgione points out that an analysis by the institute suggests "that very few businesses make full use" of the FTAs so far reached and says that the creation of an International Trade Committee, chaired by the prime minister, would "ensure a joined-up approach to FTAs, which prioritises the need for Global Britain to get the practical help and support it needs to take full advantage of FTAs”.The IOE&IT also wants targeted support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to include the establishment of an MSME action team of experienced trade and customs agents tasked with providing practical, bespoke support for businesses to trade on an international basis.And with research by the institute indicating a decline in the number of businesses exporting, the letter says “it is vital that businesses of all sizes get the practical help and support they need to trade effectively".Mr Forgione adds: “We ask that you work with us to equip these entities with the skills and practical expertise to trade effectively and that together we promote international trade as a core part of everyday business practice.”Finally, the IOE&IT wants the new PM to link the establishment of freeports across the UK to a wider regional skills agenda to help build regional capacity and capability in international trade.Kevin Shakespeare, director of the institute, said: “In a time of real financial uncertainty, it is imperative for businesses to know that the government has their priorities at heart. The IOE&IT regularly takes the pulse of our members to hear those concerns and priorities."Armed with this insight, Marco Forgione has written to both Conservative leadership candidates regarding four specific policy asks, should they become prime minister, including additional financial support for MSMEs and a more explicit commitment to link freeports with the regional skills agenda.”

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