UK must remove ‘digital barriers’, says new international trade secretary


he UK must break down ‘digital barriers’ to open up new opportunities for businesses and consumers, the new International Trade Secretary will say.

In her first speech since being reappointed to the Cabinet during the Boris Johnson reshuffle, Anne-Marie Trevelyan will address industry leaders at the start of London Tech Week on Monday.

His department will today publish a five-point plan to establish a “free and fair digital trading landscape” to help UK businesses and consumers.

The plan, said the DIT (Department for International Trade), “would cut costs for UK businesses, reduce red tape and strengthen data protection”.

Ms Trevelyan said: “We all depend on digital trade, but UK businesses face digital barriers in countries that take a protectionist approach.

“I want the UK to break down these barriers and unlock exciting new opportunities for businesses and consumers so we can see improved productivity, jobs and growth.

“Our five-point plan is the first step in shaping international digital trade policy for decades to come.

“Through our network of international agreements, we innovate, advance innovative ideas and set a new benchmark in digital commerce.”

Someone using a cell phone (Chris Radburn/PA) / PA Archives

According to the DIT, businesses face barriers that reduce their ability to benefit from digital technology, including paperless commerce, and simplifying digital commerce would allow businesses to trade efficiently and profitably.

The five points he added included proposals to facilitate more open digital markets, champion free and trusted cross-border data flows, support consumer and business safeguards, promote the development and adoption of innovative digital trade systems and establish global cooperation on digital trade.

The digital sector contributed £150.6 billion to the UK economy in 2019, employing 4.6% of the national workforce, the DIT said.