The UK has started talks with Italy on a new export and investment deal which should expand trade between the two European countries.
Speaking alongside Italian minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation Luigi Di Maio in Sorrento, Italy, the new International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said that “enhancing our bilateral relationship with Italy is a win-win, which will boost export opportunities and investment promotion for our businesses.”
Italy is the world’s eighth-largest economy and trade between Rome and London was worth £38bn last year.
“Italy is our ninth-largest trading partner, while the UK is Italy’s fifth-largest export market – I am delighted we are kicking off this discussion,” she said.
“The UK and Italy are also working side-by-side to deliver a successful Cop26 summit. The next 18 months are critical for our planet and together we will lead by example to accelerate progress towards a green, resilient and inclusive recovery.”
The two ministers met after a G20 meeting in Sorrento.
The talks will seek to boost exports for companies in both countries, including in high-performing sectors such as life sciences, defence and security, as well as growth sectors of the future such as digital and tech.
They will also aim to promote inward investment, including in low-carbon industries such as onshore and offshore wind, hydrogen, and carbon capture storage, plus the food and drink industry and tech sector – where the UK’s research and development strengths can help support Italian scale-ups.
London and Rome will also try to boost collaboration and sharing of best practice between the two countries’ export credit organisations – UK Export Finance and the Italian Export Credit Agency – helping SMEs and companies looking to grow.
The dialogue is expected to lead to annual ministerial talks, as well as innovative commercial partnerships and stronger ties between UK and Italian CEOs.
Cars, pharma, food and clothing
According to the Department for International Trade, some of the most popular British products exported to Italy last year included cars worth £829m – equivalent to 10 per cent of all UK goods exported to Italy – and £383m worth of medicinal and pharmaceutical products.
British consumers bought £1.2bn worth of Italian clothing last year and imported £860 million worth of beverages and more than £641m worth of fruit and vegetables.
The announcement comes after Ms Trevelyan called for greater transparency at the World Trade Organisation and reform of its rules around state subsidies.
At the meeting of G20 trade ministers on Tuesday, the International Trade Secretary made the case that British businesses that “play by the rules” should not be “damaged and undercut by market-distorting practices from other countries”.
Trevelyan said: “We cannot and will not allow British businesses who play by the rules to be damaged and undercut by market-distorting practices from other countries. That’s why we are fighting for changes to make sure trade is free and fair for all.
“Today’s meeting is a great opportunity to rally our G20 partners and build alliances that can defend the global trading system and help bring it into the 21st century.
“By making the global system work for the UK we can provide certainty to our vital industries and support jobs up the down the country.”
For Trevelyan, it was the first international summit since taking the role at the end of September and this announcement will be seen as one of her first post-Brexit trade victories.