UK must break down ‘digital barriers’ new International Trade Secretary says

·2 min read

The UK must break down “digital barriers” to open up new opportunities for businesses and consumers, the new International Trade Secretary will say.

In her first speech since her new Cabinet appointment in Boris Johnson’s reshuffle, Anne-Marie Trevelyan will address industry leaders on Monday at the start of London Tech Week.

Her department will today publish a five-point plan aimed at establishing a “free and fair digital trade landscape” to help UK businesses and consumers.

The plan, the DIT (Department for International Trade) said, would “reduce costs for British businesses, cut red tape and shore up data protection”.

Ms Trevelyan said: “All of us depend on digital trade, yet British businesses face digital barriers in countries who take a protectionist approach.

“I want the UK to break down these barriers and open up new, exciting opportunities for businesses and consumers so we can see improved productivity, jobs and growth.

“Our five-point plan is the first step in shaping international digital trade policy for decades to come.

“Through our network of international agreements, we are breaking new ground, pushing forward innovative ideas and setting a new gold standard for digital trade.”

Someone using a mobile phone (Chris Radburn/PA)
Someone using a mobile phone (Chris Radburn/PA)

Businesses, the DIT said, faced barriers reducing their ability to benefit from digital technology including paperless trading, and making digital trade easier would enable businesses to trade efficiently and cost-effectively.

The five points it added included proposals to facilitate more open digital markets, advocate free and trusted cross-border data flows, support consumer and business safeguards, promote the development and adoption of innovative digital trading systems and establish global cooperation on digital trade.

The digital sector contributed £150.6 billion to the UK economy in 2019, employing 4.6% of the national workforce, the DIT said.

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