Britain said it will maintain duty-free access to its markets once it has left the European Union for goods from nearly 50 developing countries including Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and Haiti, reports Reuters.
The British government said around 48 countries would continue to benefit from tariff-free exports on all goods other than arms and ammunition to the UK and that once it had left the EU in 2019 it would explore options to expand trade relations further.
‘Our departure from the EU is an opportunity to step up to our commitments to the rest of the world, not step away from them,’ International trade secretary Liam Fox said in a statement on Saturday.
‘Free and fair trade has been the greatest liberator of the world’s poor, and today’s announcement shows our commitment to helping developing countries grow their economies and reduce poverty through trade.’
Britain embarked on its negotiations to leave the EU last week, agreeing to deal first with EU priorities such as a possible ‘Brexit bill’ before discussing future trade deals with the bloc.
According to the government, around 20 billion pounds a year of goods were shipped to Britain from these developing countries, accounting for around half of its clothing, a quarter of its coffee and other goods such as cocoa, bananas and roses.
Bangladesh exports around $2.5 billion worth of products, mostly readymade garments, to the UK market a year and currently gets duty free access under the EU GSP.
Citing Bangladesh’s garment sector, the UK government said that the sector employed more than 20 lakh women It said that without continuation of the existing trading arrangements, clothing, for example, from some of the poorest countries such as Bangladesh could face tariffs of over 10 per cent, which could be passed on to UK consumers through higher prices.
In 2015, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam together exported 3.4 crore dresses -- one dress for every woman in the UK.
‘None of these countries can defeat poverty without sustained economic growth – jobs and investment opportunities are vital to helping the world’s poorest people stand on their own two feet,’ said the British government.
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