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Focusing on new markets and trading partners around the world

Free trade agreements

Crawford Falconer, Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser for the Department of International Trade (DIT), talked about the UK Government’s priorities in pursuing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with countries around the world during the latest in a series of Barclays trade and export webinars.

  • The Government says an independent trade policy will allow the UK to go further, faster in trade deals
  • The UK is building trade links with the world’s fast-growth economies
  • Services will be as much a priority as goods in trade negotiations

As the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU gets under way, Crawford Falconer provided an insider’s view on the ongoing trade negotiations aimed at supporting UK businesses in other overseas markets around the world. Joining Crawford at our virtual event on 10 February 2021 were: Marian Sudbury, Director, UK Regions, DIT; Divyesh Modi, UK Head of Trade & Working Capital for Barclays; and Paul Bowman, Vertical Head of International SCS for Barclays Business.

Image or Crawford Falconer

Crawford Falconer
Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser for the Department of International Trade (DIT)

Building the UK’s trade profile

Crawford began by stressing that although the EU will remain a significant part of UK trade, it is now imperative the UK also looks to the rest of world for trading opportunities. A great deal of work has already been done to extend agreements the UK had as part of the EU and make them specific to the UK. These agreements cover over £200bn worth of trade with more than 60 countries.

Crawford pointed to the new FTA with Japan as an example of how the UK can now use its ability to negotiate independently. He believes our unique trade profile makes the UK an appealing trading partner and can help the country go further in trade agreements than it was able to as a member of the EU.

Good progress is being made in talks with the US, Australia and New Zealand, particularly on access to these markets for SMEs. In the US – our largest single trading partner – the Government believes an FTA could make a real difference to the 32,000 UK SMEs that are already trading there and boost overall trade by at least £15bn. However, with political change in the US, Crawford added that the UK would have to wait and see how the new administration wants to move negotiations forward.

Focus on fast-growth economies

Crawford highlighted the importance to the UK of trade links with the Asia Pacific and East Asia regions, where fast-growth economies look likely to bounce back from the impact of the Covid pandemic faster and further than other parts of the globe. A growing middle class in these economies provides significant potential for growth in consumer spending, which could benefit UK exporters. In particular, the strength of the UK’s digital economy – second only to the US – should allow it to capitalise on these growing markets.

A key part of the Government’s strategy to plug into fast-growth regions is its application for membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – the group of 11 nations including Japan, Australia and Singapore that represents 13% of global GDP. Crawford said the department is continuing to address immediate barriers to trade for business and deepen trade co-operation with India through an Enhanced Trade Partnership, as part of a roadmap that could lead to a potential FTA.

Agreement on services is a priority

Crawford confirmed the Government is pushing for liberalised cross-border trade for professional services in all its negotiations with other countries around the world.

The outcome is likely to vary with each trading partner, but approaches involving mutual recognition, although often complex and time-consuming, is a priority in the Government’s trade development plans.

Support from the DIT

Export support and know-how is available to UK companies from the DIT’s 300 international trade advisers and nine regional offices across England, and the equivalent organisations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This includes 400 volunteer Export Champions, experienced SME exporters who can share their knowledge, as well as sector specialists based throughout the UK and globally.

With a mission to ensure no viable export deal fails for lack of finance, businesses can reach out to UK Export Finance^ (UKEF), the Government agency offering a broad range of support, from credit insurance to supply chain finance and export facilities with Government-backed guarantees.

In addition, the DIT can refer businesses with £500,000-plus turnover or high-growth potential to matched funding schemes for services such as market research, web translation and legal advice, to enhance their export drives.

Further advice on becoming a successful exporter is available at the Government’s dedicated export and import website, GREAT.gov.uk, or you can register to join the Government’s Export Academy^.

Support from Barclays

Barclays supports around 9,500 UK export businesses to unlock international opportunities, for both goods and services, through our 260 trade and working capital specialists in the UK and overseas, as well as our partnership with the DIT.

We offer a host of practical solutions and guidance to our clients, which fall into four key areas:

Risk mitigation

Trading in new overseas markets, with new suppliers and customers, can bring risk as well as opportunities. Risk mitigation is one of our key capabilities and, working with our network of banking partners around the globe, we can provide a range of risk solutions wherever an export business is operating.

Working Capital Support

Having sufficient working capital is paramount to any business. Barclays has a range of potential solutions that can work to support you with your business’s trade and working capital cycle.

Government schemes

Barclays works closely with the DIT and UK Finance to help design new schemes, and to inform our clients about them. For example, UKEF’s General Export Facility^ aims to support businesses with cash flow without being tied to specific contracts.

Keeping you informed

We believe that part of our role in promoting exports is to bring together experts from government and industry to share ideas for the benefit of our clients. This includes a regular newsletter that keeps our clients up to date on the latest developments in export markets.

Our goal is to ensure our clients get access to the solutions, support and guidance they need to help them on their export journeys.

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