Minister to seek support for WTO reform to ensure trade is ‘fair for all’

·2-min read

The International Trade Secretary will call for support for the UK’s call for greater transparency at the World Trade Organisation and reform of its rules around state subsidies at a meeting of G20 trade ministers in Italy.

At her first international summit in the post, Anne-Marie Trevelyan will address her G20 counterparts in Sorrento on Tuesday and make the case that British businesses that “play by the rules” should not be “damaged and undercut by market-distorting practices from other countries”.

The Department for International Trade said she will use the summit to urge G20 partners to stand up to unfair trade practices, call for reform of industrial subsidy rules to better monitor and respond to subsidies considered harmful and distorting, and call for greater transparency at the WTO.

Ms 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.”

In her brief written statement, the International Trade Secretary did not specify any countries with “market-distorting practices”.

At the summit, trade ministers are expected to agree a joint statement and discuss key issues affecting international trade and the global economic recovery from the pandemic, ahead of the G20 leaders’ summit at the end of the month.

The Department for International Trade said Ms Trevelyan will use her meeting with the upcoming chair of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Singapore, to help secure the UK’s accession to the trading bloc by the end of 2022.

It is not the first time the Government has called for a crackdown on unfair trade practices. Former international trade secretary Liz Truss called for reform and hit out at “industrial subsidies, state-owned enterprises and forced technology transfer” when she made the first speech by a British minister at the WTO since the UK became a member in its own right after Brexit in 2020.

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