Duty-free access to the UK for imports from nations across the developing world will be maintained after Brexit, the Government has said. The move means that around 48 countries, including Bangladesh, Haiti and Ethiopia, will continue to benefit from the arrangements on all goods bought by the UK, excluding weapons.
Some £20 billion a year of goods are shipped to the UK from these countries, accounting for around half of UK clothing, and a quarter of UK coffee. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “Our departure from the EU is an opportunity to step up to our commitments to the rest of the world, not step away from them.
“Free and fair trade has been the greatest liberator of the world’s poor, and today’s announcement shows our commitment to helping developing countries grow their economies and reduce poverty through trade.
“Behind the ‘duty-free exports’ are countless stories of people in developing countries working hard to provide for themselves and their families by exporting everyday goods such as cocoa, bananas and roses, resulting in lower prices and greater choice for consumers.”
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “The UK is using its position as a great, global trading nation to seize opportunities to lift countries out of grinding poverty. “This will generate the wealth, prosperity and investment needed to create millions of jobs and help the world’s poorest people stand on their own two feet.
“Helping developing countries harness the formidable power of trade means we are not only creating trading partners of the future for UK businesses, but supporting jobs at home too. “Building a more prosperous world and supporting our own long-term economic security is firmly in all our interests.”
The Fairtrade Foundation’s Tim Aldred welcomed the Government’s pledge to increase trade with developing countries in a number of areas. He said: “We are very pleased to hear today’s commitments to guarantee and strengthen the position of the least developed countries who provide such a high quantity of the goods sold in our supermarkets and high streets.
“The position of poor countries just outside the ‘least developed country’ category, such as Kenya, will need to be clarified. “Government will also need to take care that large deals with emerging economies do not push out the sales from the poorest countries.”