New UK trade programme set to boost deals with developing countries

Trade tariffs on some items from developing countries are set to be cut or abolished

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan speaks during the British Chambers Commerce Annual Global conference at the QEII Centre in London. PA
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The UK government has announced a new post-Brexit trade programme that will be one of the most generous in the world, as it cuts tariffs on hundreds of products from developing countries.

Products including clothing, olive oil and tomatoes are set to have lower or zero tariffs, which Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan described as “taking back control” of UK trade policy.

The tariffs, or taxes on imported goods, will be cut on a range of products as part of the new Developing Countries Trading Scheme.

The Department for International Trade said the tariff cut is more generous that the equivalent European Union programme and will mean 99 per cent of goods imported from Africa will enter the UK duty free.

The new programme, which will come into force early next year, replaces the old UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences that had rolled over from the country's EU membership.

“As an independent trading nation, we are taking back control of our trade policy and making decisions that back UK businesses, help with the cost of living and support the economies of developing countries around the world,” said Ms Trevelyan.

“UK businesses can look forward to less red tape and lower costs, incentivising firms to import goods from developing countries.”

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The Department for International Trade estimates that UK businesses will save £750 million ($905m) a year on reduced import costs, with the project covering 65 countries across Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

Those savings, the department said, will also benefit consumers.

The programme also includes the removal of some seasonal tariffs, while also simplifying complex trade regulations such as rules of origin.

One part of the programme includes new Platinum Partnerships, which the department said was designed to “grow trade between the UK and selected lower and middle-income Commonwealth countries and reduce dependency on aid”.

The department said it would also boost green trade and investment.

Updated: August 16, 2022, 12:53 AM