New technologies to shape UK’s post-Brexit trade strategy

Britain’s post-Brexit trade strategy will be based around an open and liberal economy, underpinned by international co-operation and a strong focus on new technologies, Business Secretary Greg Clark has said.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Mr Clark said much of the UK’s trading focus would be on new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and digitalisation, with the UK aiming to become a world leader in these areas.

He said one sector the UK was already a world leader in was offshore wind energy and this was just one example of where future opportunities might lie.

Another is automotive, where a move towards autonomous driving and electric vehicles was helping to shape the new Industrial Strategy.

“In all these areas, we could move forward with our European friends,” Mr Clark told the newspaper.

In addition to maintaining a positive relationship with the EU, the Business Secretary said the UK would also look to maintain close links with the United States – despite the tariffs issue.

However, he said Britain shared the EU’s view on tariffs, concluding a trade war would be “bad for everyone”.

Looking to reassure the French – as well as other EU countries – he said creating physical borders for manufactured and agricultural products, such as that proposed for Northern Ireland would be counter-productive.

Likewise, creating delays at Channel ports would also be negative and lead to enormous logistical problems – especially for key industries such as automotive.

Mr Clark said he had spoken to leaders of PSA, the new owner of Vauxhall, about the issue.

In common with most automotive OEMs, PSA operates a complex supply chain and one which could be damaged by an undue amount of red tape.

“The factory operates with a very sophisticated supply system,” Mr Clark was quoted as saying. “We can see that the stakes are not only financial.”