North West business leaders recruited to support international trade negotiations

Karen Smart

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has called on the expertise of North West businesses in a drive to boost overseas trade talks.

She has today (August 26) launched 11 new trade advisory groups (TAGs) as part of a major business engagement drive.

The groups cover: Agri-Food; Automotive, Aerospace and Marine; British Manufacturing and Consumer Goods; Investment; Life Sciences; Tech and Telecoms; Chemicals; Financial Services; Professional Advisory Services; Transport Services; and Creative Industries.

Members have been selected to provide a breadth of knowledge and experience.

Included in the expert panels are Katherine Bennett, senior vice president of Airbus UK which employs around 6,000 staff at its wing-making plant in Broughton, near Chester (Aerospace and Marine); Jakob Sigurdsson chief executive of Thornton Cleveleys-based polymers group Victrex, Martin Ashcroft, UK managing director of Tata Chemicals Europe which has key operations in Cheshire (Chemicals); Keith Anderson, chief executive with Scottish Power which provides electricity across Merseyside, North Wales and Cheshire (Investment); and Karen Smart, managing director of Manchester Airport (Transport Services).

As trade talks with Japan, the US, Australia and New Zealand intensify, the Trade Secretary is stepping up engagement with key industries across Britain, including farming, manufacturing and automotive.

Their advice will be used to help inform the Government’s negotiating position and deliver key industry asks that benefit the whole UK, including securing new market access on products like ceramics, cars, steel and beef, and agreeing cutting-edge digital trade rules.

The new groups are comprised of the best and brightest businesses people from all parts of Britain, from whisky distillers in Scotland to car manufacturers in the Midlands, as part of DIT’s efforts to ensure trade deals benefit all regions and devolved administrations.

Liz Truss said: “This is about bringing business closer to the negotiating table and using their expertise to help secure the best possible deals that deliver jobs and growth across Britain.

“Talks with Japan, the US, Australia and New Zealand are entering their crucial latter stages, so it is only right that we step up engagement with vital industries to utilise their technical and strategic expertise.”

She added: “I want business in Britain to feel engaged and informed about the work we’re doing to build an independent trade policy and how it impacts them.

“As we recover from coronavirus we want to strike deals that benefit every part of the country so we can build back better and deliver a fairer country for all.”