UK Government to launch new trade scheme with developing countries

The UK Government is set to launch a new trade scheme that would give developing countries access to lower tariffs.

Aimed at helping countries out of poverty, the consultation will look at trading rules to boost business both abroad and in the UK.

The UK Government says the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) is a “major opportunity” and will help grow free and fair trade with developing nations.

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International trade secretary Liz Truss said: “Trade fundamentally empowers people and has done more than any single policy in history to lift millions of people around the world out of poverty.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced the trade scheme today.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced the trade scheme today.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced the trade scheme today.

“Now the UK is an independent trading nation we have a huge opportunity do things differently, taking a more liberal, pro-trade approach that leads to growth and opportunity.

“Countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam have proven it’s possible to trade your way to better living standards, and our new Developing Countries Trading Scheme will help others do the same.”

The proposed scheme would apply to 70 qualifying countries currently and include improvements such as lower tariffs and simpler rules of origin requirements for nations exporting to Britain.

Officials believe it will also allow countries to diversify their exports and grow their economies, while British households and businesses benefit from lower prices and more choice.

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Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: “Cutting tariffs for poorer countries enables them to trade their way to genuine independence – and I’m proud we lead the world in offering that opportunity.”

The UK currently operates a similar scheme rolled over from the EU, but believes the change could see less tariffs on imports from low income and lower middle-income countries.

For example, this could mean lowering tariffs on products including rice from Pakistan and trainers from Nigeria.

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It will apply to 47 countries in the Least Developed Country Framework (LDCF) and 23 additional countries classified by the World Bank as low-income and lower-middle-income countries.

Other low-income and lower-middle-income countries are not included in the scheme because they benefit from preferential terms offered by free trade agreements with the UK.

The UK Government has also studied programs in Canada, the US, Japan and the EU to help form the consultation, which will run for eight weeks.

The pledge to boost trade with developing countries comes days after the UK Government moved to cut overseas aid.

MPs voted by 333 to 298, a majority of 35, to back the reduction in aid funding from 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5 per cent – a cut equivalent to around £4.4 billion this year.

The post-Brexit consultation also comes one month on from the UK Government being accused of cutting out Scotland’s farming industry after striking a new trade deal with Australia.

Boris Johnson said the agreement, which removes all tariffs on UK goods and represents the first major trade deal negotiated from scratch since Britain left the EU, showed “global Britain at its best”.

The deal means British products like Scotch whisky, cars and biscuits will be cheaper to sell into Australia, with the trade relationship set to improve on the £13.9 billion it was worth last year.

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However, opposition parties questioned the lack of protections for farmers and crofters north of the border, claiming Scotland had been “kept in the dark” and not consulted.

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