UK sets out plans to boost global digital trade

Ministers hold cabinet meeting in Downing Street, London
Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan arrives in Downing Street in London, Britain, November 11, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

November 25, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) – Improving digital trade would provide huge opportunities for British businesses and help boost economic growth, the government’s Board of Trade said, setting out how it aims to become a world leader in modern services and online goods.

In a report on digital trade to be published on Friday, the board, headed by trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said the government should look to strike digital trade deals and help shape global trade rules suitable for the modern world.

“By addressing digital protectionism on the global stage and championing a free, open, and competitive digital economy, more UK companies will be able to export their innovative, high-quality services and goods globally,” Trevelyan said in a statement.

In October, Britain helped broker a deal between the Group of Seven wealthy nations on principles to govern cross-border data use and digital trade in a first step to reducing barriers.

The Board of Trade, a government body tasked with championing exports and inward investment, said Britain should aim to build on the G7 agreement by working with partners to pursue a wider international consensus on digital rules, norms and standards.

Digital trade is broadly defined as trade in goods and services that is either enabled or delivered digitally, encompassing activities from the distribution of films and TV to professional services.

The report said Britain should focus particularly on securing Free Trade Agreements with the fast-growing Indo-Pacific market and large, service-based economies, as well as rapidly progressing the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

It should also seek a Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore, viewed as a global leader on digital, in order to demonstrate the potential for digital trade rules to others in the World Trade Organization, it said.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Alistair Smout)