'Focus On WTO' Fox tells business chiefs

UK business leaders are told by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox to put the World Trade Organisation "at the top of your agenda" after Brexit.

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In the opening speech at the Global Trade Review conference in London on 8 May, Dr Fox said that companies used to trading in the international arena must now turn their focus towards the WTO to ensure a, "level playing field" once the UK has left the European Union.

Making the case for free trade

He said Brexit presented the opportunity of allowing Britain to take an independent seat at the WTO and Dr Fox urged the business chiefs to use membership of the organisation to help them make the case for free trade and, "win the battle against the siren voices of protectionism".Dr Fox, an enthusiastic supporter of Brexit, who believes successful trade deals can be struck with many nations once the UK has left the EU, said, "We should not be bystanders in our future. We should set a firm course to shape that future – for Britain and the world.

WTO top of the agenda

"So, my ask of British business is simple. You've long engaged with Brussels, Washington and Westminster. Now is the time to put the WTO at the top of your agenda."Free trade does not mean trade without rules and we must take action to ensure a level playing field. Our first port of call has to be the World Trade Organisation – the home of the rules-based international trading system that underpins our prosperity."The United Kingdom will soon take its seat around the table as an independent member for the first time in over 40 years. It is an opportunity."

UK seeking WTO reforms

The UK is seeking reforms to the rules of the Geneva-based WTO, in such areas as the trading status of state-owned enterprises, industrial subsidies and forced technology transfers – a particular concern in trade with China where the Beijing regime often requires firms to share technology.Dr Fox said, "Levelling the playing field involves carefully considering developing countries' needs and ensuring that every country reaps the benefits of free trade governed by the rules-based international system."

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