Britain needs to reassess its position to better seize the opportunities and address challenges following its departure from the European Union (EU) on Jan. 31, Britain's former international trade secretary Liam Fox said Tuesday.
"We can all now be certain that we will leave the European Union on the 31st of January. That debate is over. The question now is how we position our country for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead," Fox said in a key-note speech in London.
As a member of the Conservative Party, Fox served as Secretary of State for International Trade from 2016 to 2019. Speaking on the theme of "Getting Whitehall Ready for Global Britain" at the Institute for Government, a think tank, Fox said the rise of China's middle class, among others, presents opportunities that Britain should not miss.
China has been shifting from an investment-driven model to a more domestic consumption-powered economy over the years. The country's increasingly prosperous market of 1.4 billion and greater opening-up steps present invaluable opportunities to global businesses.
To fulfill its commitment to expand imports, China has hosted two import expos in succession in Shanghai, where thousands of products made their debut to woo China's swelling middle class. To further open up its market, China has pledged to continue to lower tariffs and institutional transaction costs and import more high-quality goods and services from around the world.
Meanwhile, Africa offers "a vast new global market," Fox said.
"Between now and 2050, Africa on its own will represent 54 percent of world population increase and it is predicted that there will be 1.1 billion middle class Africans by 2060, a vast new global market," he said.
Fox pointed out 57 percent of Britain's exports were now to outside the EU, compared with only 46 percent in 2006. He said the IMF estimates that in the next 10 to 15 years, 90 percent of global economic growth will originate from outside the EU.
"A successful trade policy is not simply about 'trade deals', as too many commentators and politicians seem to believe, but generating income from selling more British goods and services abroad," he said.
The government needs to take new roles and new responsibilities to enable Britain to do business in a changing world, he added.
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