Business input vital in trade talks, says CBI

The UK's largest business organisation has produced the blueprint that it wants the government to follow to achieve "maximum leverage" while negotiating post-Brexit trade deals.

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Building a World-Leading UK Trade Policy

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) report, 'Building a World-Leading UK Trade Policy', urges ministers to work closely together with businesses, using their expertise to achieve the most in trade negotiations."Businesses can help the new government to maximise the benefits of international trade. It is firms, not government, that trade the bulk of goods and services across the world," says the report."They are experiencing the market access barriers that governments want to knock down and can advise on the most serious and the most solvable of these. They are striking deals across the world every day and have deep relationships with key decision makers."In the boardrooms of multinationals across the globe, British CEOs fight for investment in the UK worth billions of pounds and know first-hand what can win the argument for the UK as a more attractive place to invest."Utilising this expertise, these relationships and this insight, as well as learning from best practice from leading trading nations, should be a top priority for the new UK government."
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What specific recommendations does the CBI make about UK trade policy?

The report makes several practical recommendations for building a world-leading British trade policy, including:
  • Appointing a Chief Business Trade Envoy to gather business intelligence, be a single point of government contact for firms, and ensure policy coherence
  • Taking business delegations to negotiations to strengthen the UK’s hand and give negotiators immediate access to technical and “shop floor” expertise
  • Extending the remit of existing Department for International Trade (DIT) Expert Trade Advisory Groups to create Thematic and Sectoral Trade Advisory Groups providing detailed advice for specific sectors
  • Setting up a high-level Strategic EU Trade Advisory Group for EU trade negotiations.
Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said, “For the first time in close to fifty years, the UK has the opportunity to build its own trade policy. If we get it right, there is tremendous potential, from more choice and lower prices for consumers to a bigger British economy with prosperity shared more equally across the country.“The key for the government to unlock that success is simple – make the best use of the wealth of expertise business has to offer. It is firms that trade most goods and services, are at the front line of market access barriers, and strike deals every day the world over. Their knowledge and insight – from the factory, shop and office floor to the boardroom – will be mission critical to the UK’s trading future.“Working closely with business and learning from the success of international trading powerhouses will enable the government to have crystal clear objectives and maximum leverage when striking ambitious new trade deals. If this is combined with a transparent approach that builds buy-in across the country, the UK has a fantastic chance to build the strongest of trade links with partners old and new.” 

Read the CBI report: Building a World-Leading UK Trade Policy

Read more news and views from David Sapsted

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