Brexit Britain FINALLY allowed to shine: Truss heads to WTO to lead on trade outside EU

Liz Truss warns US against 'tit-for-tat' trade sanctions

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While a member of the EU, the UK was represented by the European Commission in almost all dealings with the WTO. Now, post-Brexit, Britain has resumed its own place at the table, with ministers able to have a greater role in forging the international trading system.

Ms Truss is meeting the WTO’s new boss, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to discuss reforms in areas such as the rules for state subsidies of industry.

Britain holds the presidency of the G7 this year, with Boris Johnson to host world leaders for a summit in Cornwall in June.

The Prime Minister is hoping to use the presidency as an opportunity to find ways of breaking down barriers and boosting International trade.

Ms Truss’s visit to Geneva today will help promote the UK’s desire to take a leading role internationally on trade.

A Department for International Trade (DIT) spokeswoman said: “We want to work with Dr Okonjo-Iweala and other WTO members to make sure the international trading system meets the needs of people right around the world and keeps pace with the rapid changes we are seeing.

“As Dr Okonjo-Iweala has acknowledged, the WTO needs to modernise and tackle big global issues like climate change and technological advancement.

“We need a new set of digital trade rules for the 21st century, and more needs to be done to tackle pernicious practices like industrial subsidies so trade is fair as well as free.

“Trade is also an incredibly powerful tool for advancing women’s economic empowerment and pushing forward the low-carbon transition, so we want to see more concerted action on those issues too.

“That’s why we are leading the way, using our G7 Presidency to help restore trust in the global trading system.

“Free and fair trade can spark the jobs- and exports-led recovery we need.”

Ms Truss will also discuss with Dr Okonjo-Iweala the importance of keeping the trade of vital medical supplies, including vaccines, flowing during the pandemic.

It comes after repeated threats from the EU to block the export of coronavirus vaccines to the UK and other parts of the world.

Frustrated AstraZeneca has failed to deliver as many doses to the bloc as hoped and the European Commission introduced export licences earlier this year.

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The shipment of all jabs out of the bloc must now first be approved by the Commission.

The UK relies on a manufacturing plant in Belgium for its supply of Pfizer vaccines.

While the EU has not blocked the export of any vaccines to the UK yet, it has stopped the shipment of 3.1 million AstraZeneca jabs to Australia.

The Department for International Trade spokeswoman said counties “must work together if we are to achieve” the eradication of trade barriers.

She added WTO members should take ” tough action against unfair trade practices and promoting a global approach to health security by knocking down trade barriers on Covid-critical products”.

Ms Truss’s department has become one of the most important in Whitehall as the UK looks to build new relationships outside of the EU.

It has already signed trade deals with 67 countries, on top of the one negotiated with the EU by Lord Frost.

Yesterday the Trade Act officially become law, implementing the agreements worth £891billion between them.

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