UK steps up overseas tech drive

The UK government has launched a range of measures to boost international digital trade in a bid to turn the nation into a "global tech powerhouse".

In an announcement on Wednesday during London Tech Week - which is being held online because of the coronavirus outbreak - International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said initiatives would include the creation of a Digital Trade Network for Asia-Pacific, which will support UK SMEs to break into the Asian market.Ms Truss also announced the establishment of a Tech Exporting Academy to provide scale-ups with expert advice from leading professional services firms in areas essential to expansion, such as regulation, intellectual property, and compliance."The measures we have announced today will help businesses take advantage of opportunities in fast-growing markets overseas and provide the support that firms need to grow and eventually ‘go global’," said Ms Truss."Trade agreements we are negotiating with key partners will go further than others in addressing barriers to digital trade, opening up huge opportunities for our exporters and also for inward investment into the UK."I want the UK to be the leading global voice in digital trade and the intellectual driving force in the space, breaking new ground in trade policy and pushing forward innovative new ideas like a global single market for digital trade."Now is the time to harness our talent and potential and unleash it on the world stage. The measures announced today are an important step forwards in achieving that."The Department for International Trade said the new measures would ensure the tech industry could take advantage of new, post-Brexit free trade agreements (FTA) with nations around the world.Pointing out that tech and digital investment in the UK was the third highest in the world last year behind the US and China, the department said future FTAs being negotiated with the likes of America and Japan "will enable the UK to go further, setting new standards in areas of digital technology and e-commerce, and encouraging further investment into the UK’s world-leading tech companies".The latest range of initiatives also includes the launch of a new fintech campaign, which will promote UK fintech companies who enable digitisation and resilience in priority export markets. It will also aim to enhance UK tech competitiveness on the global stage once the pandemic has passed and "ensure we remain the best place to start, scale and internationalise a fintech business".Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "The UK is home to a globally renowned tech sector and we are determined to help it grow further by taking an unashamedly pro-tech approach."Through this strategy we will give tech businesses of all sizes and all over the country the tools they need to expand their operations overseas and succeed on the world stage."Gerard Grech, chief executive of the industry network Tech Nation, added: "The UK needs a tech-fuelled recovery and that means opportunities to grow businesses from domestic ideas to international brands. Eighty per cent of companies on our Upscale 5.0 programme listed international expansion as one of their top scaling challenges in 2020."We are therefore delighted to support a new Digital Trade Network. Connecting businesses into local networks using on-the-ground expertise will help innovative UK businesses make the leap to new markets."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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