Department for International Trade
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DIT removes 20% more trade barriers to unlock major markets for British business

The United Kingdom has broken down hundreds of trade barriers around the world in the year to April, opening up new opportunities for British businesses, according to new data published recently [Thursday 25 November].

The Department for International Trade has published statistics showing a total of 217 trade barriers across 74 countries were removed over the 20-21 financial year, representing an increase of almost 20% on the previous 12 months.

Trade barriers are regulatory, legislative and administrative measures imposed by other countries that restrict the flow of goods and services. Getting rid of them makes it easier for businesses to trade around the world as we build back better and boost exports.

As well as securing new trade agreements, DIT is using its expertise to remove individual barriers wherever British businesses face them and in sectors that matter most to our economy, supporting SMEs and securing access to new and exciting markets.

Some of the barriers addressed over this period include:

  • Working with the Jordanian government to open up British food exports worth £32 million, by changing labelling rules that will help our producers to increase sales to a country that imports £2.5bn worth of food annually
  • Unlocking access to finance in Hong Kong to enable UK education providers to build new schools there from early next year
  • Cooperating with Indian counterparts to enable more investment in India’s £4bn insurance market- 74% foreign ownership now allowed, up from 49% - a sector in which the UK has world-class strengths
  • In Colombia, helping British asset managers enter a green investment market worth £835m per year
  • In Bulgaria, supporting UK business to access products to develop cutting-edge technology that will extend the life of vaccines, helping overcome logistical and distribution challenges from the pandemic.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan recently said:

“As an independent trading nation – the UK is opening up brand new opportunities in major economies around the world. Each and every one of these 217 trade wins are fantastic news for our UK businesses who sell their products abroad – and we will continue to open doors for the many more that will export more in future.”

Minister for International Trade Ranil Jayawardena recently said:

“In the last year, we have been tearing down even more trading barriers than the year before – 20% more, in spite of Covid-19 – which is proof that Global Britain is delivering for our dedicated exporters, supporting local jobs and boosting the economy.

“This is just the beginning. We want businesses in every corner of the country to tell us about the barriers they want us to tackle next, so they can focus on what they do best – making world-class products and selling them to the world.”

As part of this continuing work, more recent successes have seen poultry exports allowed into Japan following a series of complex negotiations. Industry estimates predict this will boost the sector by up to £65 million over five years, which is in addition to the 99% tariff-free trade secured when the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) came into force in October 2020.

Pork can also now be exported to Mexico for the first time which means a potential increase in sales of £50 million over the first five years of trade.

Businesses facing market access issues can also report barriers online using our first-class digital system and find out information on barriers that are relevant to them. This includes the recently launched Export Support Service to make it easier for British businesses to find help with practical questions about exporting to Europe.

Notes to Editors

  • Market Access wins are counted for financial year 2020/21 which runs from 01/04/2020 to 31/03/2021
  • The Digital Market Access Service (DMAS) is the internal government database of trade barriers facing UK businesses that enables closer collaboration across government in Whitehall and at overseas Posts to analyse and progress action to try and resolve them where feasible.
  • DMAS is not a comprehensive repository of all market access issues facing UK exporters, and reporting rates vary widely across countries and regions. As such, aggregate figures should be interpreted as an indicative estimate based on a selective sample.
  • The number of countries across which the 217 barriers have been resolved represents the number of different countries in which at least one entry was listed as being present on DMAS. It is subject to the same uncertainties and limitations as all DMAS statistics, as outlined above.
  • Figures on the value of UK exports and the value of partner country imports are based on existing published UK and International Statistic series drawn from ONS and UN Comtrade datasets. Further details on methodology for these are available in the DIT statistical publication: Market Access barrier statistics: Financial year 2020/2021.


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