Lot of good and interesting points in this article on the performance of the Department for International Trade, but missing the crucial context - that we don't know what UK trade policy is for. Because we don't have a strategy. politico.eu/article/global…
What we have is UK trade activity, from promotion to defence, Free Trade Agreements, WTO, green trade - but no overall context for it. And that activity is now unravelling because of the lack of integrated strategy - e.g. trade and climate change / Australia FTA / precedent etc
What "strategic vision"? Saying free trade a few times while pursuing Free Trade Agreement providing limited benefits and putting up trade barriers to involvement in supply chains is not a vision.

Will wait for the speech, but with little expectation.
So much wrong with this statement. Those who have argued against free trade most in the UK are the government, who have put up more trade barriers than any in modern history. And the outdated misconception that free trade and regulations are incompatible.
The real problem with UK trade policy is being run with such limited appreciation of trade or international political reality, because they are inconvenient to ideologues or the ambitious (you can judge which of these best fits Truss)
This is a really a quite staggeringly vacuous speech, a collection of random phrases assembled apparently at random, displaying absolutely no understanding of modern trade other that to say digital a few times. gov.uk/government/spe…
We should be offensive because that is better than being defensive, but we can be defensive as well if we want, though offence is the best form of defence. Or something.

But more likely nothing. A government minister who thinks saying free trade is enough of a policy.
Number of mentions of supply chains - 2. In context of disruptions, not of growing trade. Number of mentions of automotive / aerospace / universities, three huge export sectors - none.

Number of people who have said what is claimed here - also none, strangely enough.
Thank goodness there's a mention of the corn laws. At least we can rely on UK government ministers to know something of 19th century trade, probably more than they do of 21st century at least.
Some time ago I was asked to write about what UK trade strategy should be, one of those commissioned with a long lead time so I don't know if it will ever be published. Here's an excerpt, just to show there is a better way... hopefully the rest to follow in due course.

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More from @DavidHenigUK

16 Sep
Ok folks, this is important. China has applied to join the CPTPP, following UK footsteps. Recall the US withdrew from predecessor TPP in 2016.

Snap judgement. Very bad news for hopes of speedy UK accession (not at all our fault).
Is China serious about CPTPP? Well you can find reference to interest in joining back in 2013. Then President Xi said they were considering joining in November 2020. So this isn't new. There was concern dating back to TTIP / TPP of China losing out.
How does the US respond? In large part China's application to join CPTPP is a direct consequence of US failure to deliver the TPP / TTIP architecture planned under Obama. Under Trump and Biden, the turn inwards.
Read 11 tweets
16 Sep
This week's @BorderlexEditor column turns the attention to the EU's new 'magic weapon', the Brussels Effect, increasingly being seen as a missing link between regulation and growth, the first leading to the second through global adoption borderlex.net/2021/09/15/per…
Unfortunately for the EU's plans, the Brussels Effect has hitherto been a market led process where companies spending to meet stringent EU regulations in areas like chemicals influence other governments towards similar. It is far from clear it can be deliberately deployed. Image
Deliberate extra-territorial regulation is a tricky business, and it is far from clear it can work for example in artificial intelligence. Even to try risks justifying over-regulation and angering trade partners. Beware therefore the new Brussels Effect. borderlex.net/2021/09/15/per…
Read 4 tweets
16 Sep
Right, new team incoming at the Department of International Trade, and despite what some suggest, not the easiest inheritance from a Secretary of State who preferred self-promoting announcements over resolving issues of substance. More in hope than expectation, 6 priorities... Image
Top one, since formation the DIT has been obsessively secretive, regarding all stakeholders as potential enemies with whom little should be shared. Except these are also the people on whose behalf the department negotiates. They are unhappy. Overdue to fix.iccwbo.uk/products/trade…
Next, the Australia FTA, in our desperation to get a deal we gave them everything, with little in return, and no conditionality on issues like climate change. Only agreement in principle so tweak deal and policy. The precedent is otherwise very difficult. lowyinstitute.org/the-interprete…
Read 8 tweets
15 Sep
Got a few meetings tomorrow so grateful if the PM can call this afternoon...
Quite fancy Culture I think, the job is to attend things, or maybe Home Office so I could abolish it as my one and only act...
Update, the phone rang. I said no.

Quite happy with the Sky package at the moment.
Read 4 tweets
15 Sep
A persistent Brexit theme. UK politicians who said we had no voice in Brussels as members believe that the EU should now listen to us and are surprised when this does not happen.

Not a good look, misleads the country, infuriates Brussels, damages our businesses.
The constant jibes about 'protectionist' Brussels are a bit of a giveaway, the EU like the US, Australia etc have stringent rules for importation of food items, but of course one is closer to us than the others. If the EU is protectionist so is every country in the world.
Mrs Thatcher, hero to so many of those who complain about the EU, actually did something about bureaucracy for exports, in pushing through the single market. Her successors decided to undo her work in leaving, then complain as businesses did before 1992.
Read 5 tweets
15 Sep
Fiercely protective of their interpretation of the single market perhaps. And constantly believing the Commission can't negotiate and France is getting a bad deal as a result. Image
More importantly, in my experience the EU is pretty united in thinking the UK government signed up to a treaty they didn't fully understand in the belief they could later break it without consequence, and don't care about peace. And the US agree. But they can't force change.
Because if the EU take further action against the UK over the Northern Ireland protocol it can be accused of not caring about peace hence is stuck. But there is zero trust in Johnson or Frost, and you can't really negotiate on that basis.
Read 4 tweets

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