Britain pledges to tackle trade barriers for exporters

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: British Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan reacts during an interview with a foreign media at a hotel in New Delhi

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's trade minister will on Thursday pledge to target dozens of bureaucratic barriers to exports in a pitch for freer trade, the day after she extended a protectionist package of tariffs and quotas on steel products.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan acknowledged the move to increase barriers to steel imports breached international trade rules but said the situation warranted the extension of safeguards, even though she considers herself a champion of free trade.

Ahead of her speech on Thursday, the trade ministry said it would target 100 priority issues worth 20 billion pounds ($24.24 billion) that could be resolved outside of negotiations over new Free Trade Agreements to replace the arrangements that Britain operated under in the European Union.

Among the trade impediments listed, it cited blocks on meat exports to countries in Asia, rules that delay medical devices entering South Africa and restrictions on UK-trained lawyers practicing in Japan.

"We know that businesses who export pay higher wages and are more productive than businesses who do not, but too often, complex trade rules and practical obstacles prevent them selling overseas," Trevelyan said in a statement.

The trade ministry said it had gained extra powers to remove such trade barriers due to Brexit - although Britain and the EU face the prospect of a possible trade war themselves over a dispute around trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.

The department said it had already supported the "resolution" of around 400 barriers to trade in more than 70 countries in the last two years.

However, the timeframe for the actual removal of the barriers might not always be so short - for instance, the ministry said that the removal of restrictions on British beef heading into South Korea, which could be worth 2.5 billion pounds ($3.03 billion), would be resolved in the next five years.

($1 = 0.8249 pounds)

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Alison Williams)

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