UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox argued in a speech in Manchester yesterday, “As members of the EU, we have played a huge role in ensuring that the single market remains open to trade, championing its expansion into a greater services and digital economy. We will continue to encourage this liberalisation as long as we are members of the EU and after our exit.” He also stressed that the UK “is a full and founding member of the WTO, though we have chosen to be represented by the EU in recent years. As we establish our independent position post-Brexit, we will carry the standard of free and open trade as a badge of honour.”
Answering questions after his speech, Fox noted, “The EU has a massive surplus in goods with the UK. Who does it harm more if we end up in a new tariff environment?”, and added, “It’s in everybody’s interests that, as we move forward, we have at least as free a trading environment as we have today. Everything else may not harm the politicians and institutions but it will harm the people of Europe, and it’s the people of Europe who should be at the forefront of our thoughts during that period.”
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Jo Hawley, Director of trade and investment at the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong, has said that UK officials have held preliminary talks with China over a potential free trade deal post-Brexit.
Separately, UK Trade Minister Mark Price met South Korea’s Deputy Trade Minister Woo Tae-hee yesterday to discuss post-Brexit bilateral cooperation. According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, Woo suggested that the two countries launch unofficial trade talks in light of the fact that the EU-Korea free trade agreement will no longer apply to the UK once it formally leaves the EU.
Source: Liam Fox’s speech, The Guardian, Bloomberg, Yonhap