The new UK trade secretary has indicated she wants to concentrate more on boosting exports within current trade deals than signing new agreements.
Kemi Badenoch told the Conservative party conference today that “trade deals are great, but it’s not the only thing” and that she wants to help businesses better navigate current agreements to boost exports.
“People really love our country, they think it’s a very safe place to invest their money,” she said.
“Trade deals, yes they are essential, but actually making sure we stop people creating regulations outside trade deals that harm our business is very important.”
The UK is currently in negotiations with India over a trade deal, which is expected to be signed this month.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson had set a deadline of Diwali – 24 October – for the deal, which has caused angst within the Department of International Trade about the quick turnaround.
It has been speculated by DIT officials and business groups that any deal signed would be quite shallow and would not give extensive access to Indian markets for UK services firms.
It is understood that Liz Truss and Badenoch are committed to the October 24 target.
The UK is also beginning negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – a six-country trade bloc that includes Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Badenoch, who came fourth in the Tory leadership race, yesterday warned politicians to not talk down the UK due to the effect it could have on trade relations.
The international trade secretary ran her campaign largely on a “war on woke” platform, which saw her rally against things like gender-neutral toilets and cancel culture.
She said: “If you’re telling the rest of the world your country is awful and racist what happens when your trade secretary goes to other countries to ask for things?
“There are so many knock-on effects for this kind of talk.”