Elizabeth Truss is Secretary of State for International Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities. She is the Conservative MP for south west Norfolk.
When the British people voted four years ago to leave the European Union, it was a vote of confidence in our great potential as an independent trading nation.
Since taking back control of our trade policy, we have begun securing deals that support our values across the world and bring home economic benefits.
For a concrete example of this, look at our Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan – which I was proud to sign last month.
The naysayers thought that the UK would take years to agree its own deal with Japan, but our negotiators worked in record time to do it in a few months.
Our deal goes further in a variety of ways that are important for British economic interests, which is why we can hail it a “British-shaped” deal.
Our high-standards deal with Japan features exactly the type of modern provisions we want which benefit our forward-leaning industries, including cutting-edge digital and data provisions.
TechUK agreed the deal creates “significant opportunities for trade and investment in both of our countries”, and CityUK found the provisions for financial services “raise the bar for trade agreements in services”.
Meanwhile, low tariffs on for agricultural products, alongside increased protection for iconic British goods, such as Welsh lamb and English sparkling wine, came as “very positive” news for the National Farmers’ Union.
The new opportunities secured in this deal have been welcomed from the creative industries to Scottish salmon fishermen.
But the benefits go wider than the economic value, which will deliver more jobs and investment across every nation and region of the UK.
As like-minded democracies, we can also better support our shared values – freedom, human rights and our natural environment – as we work together to uphold a rules-based global trading order.
This deal paves the way for what could be the most exciting step yet for Global Britain’s independent trading story: joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
This partnership of 11 Pacific nations make up one of the most dynamic and vibrant trading areas in the world.
Over 32 years after Margaret Thatcher warned Europe that it “never will prosper as a narrow-minded, inward-looking club”, we would be joining a truly broad-minded and outward-looking club in the CPTPP.
Members benefit from tariff-free trade on 95 per cent on goods and modern rules covering industries of increasing importance for our economy such as services, data and digital trade.
Last year, we did £112 billion worth of trade with the countries in this area, which include many of our friends and family like Australia and Canada. Together, we can do so much more, building a modern trading order across the Americas and Pacific with the UK at its heart.
As the biggest economy in the CPTPP, Japan’s support for our accession – secured as part of our newly-signed trade deal – will be key.
Securing access to this club and a strong free trade agreement with the United States would give British business unprecedented and deep access to over 40 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product. That would equate to over £27 trillion pounds.
And that is before we account for our continued terms of trade with our European friends, with whom we continue to seek a relationship centred on free trade between sovereign equals.
Some will share my excitement about our great trading potential, but others will be understandably anxious as we look to a new future as a full-independent trading nation and deal with the fallout from Coronavirus.
Despite these unprecedentedly challenging circumstances, we can make the most of the unparalleled opportunities ahead together. That is why we want to bring the whole country with us – from families and farmers to businesspeople and consumers.
Our values-driven and value-generating approach, which I outlined last week at Chatham House, has already been proven to deliver. And there is much more to come.
Taking back control of our trade policy means the British people are back in the driving seat.
We are now free to seize this opportunity and to turbocharge our trade-powered recovery.
Going global allows British business to find more customers for their high-quality goods and services. In turn, British consumers can look forward to more choice as they enjoy the best the world has to offer at competitive prices.
Together, the UK can spread prosperity worldwide, supporting freedom, democracy, human rights and a cleaner planet in the process.
Hopefully, even naysayers will want to get on board with that.