Here’s how the UK plans to break down digital trade barriers

Digital trade is not just about high-tech firms, it is fundamental for all modern businesses.
23 September 2021

Breaking down digital trade barriers between nations may just have got easier as the UK looks to help businesses export digital services. Since Brexit, trade in the UK has been experiencing some challenging times, but there might just be some positive news in store for the digital industries affected.

Speaking at the London Tech Week, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the newly appointed minister for trade in the UK, highlighted a five-point plan for digital trade. The points included plans to facilitate more open digital markets, advocate free and trusted cross-border data flows, and ensure consumers and businesses are safeguarded.

Trevelyan added that digital trade is not just about high-tech firms, but is fundamental for all businesses. The five-point plan announced for empowering digital trade are:

  • Opening up digital markets to benefit consumers and businesses
  • Make it simpler and cheaper for businesses to trade internationally by securing trusted cross-border data flows
  • Advancing high standards in consumer and IP protections
  • Championing modern digital systems to help businesses cut through needless paperwork when trading
  • Use Free Trade Agreements, the UK’s G7 Presidency, and independent voice at WTO to push the rules of global trade into the 21st century

Trevelyan acknowledged that with the center of global economic gravity moving towards Asia, the demand for high-value UK industries with digital services is set to more than double within the decade.

Digital trade is not just about high-tech firms, it is fundamental for all modern businesses.

UK minister for trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

“By embracing new opportunities on the global marketplace, we will level up the country through trade and investment. That means more high-quality jobs in the industries of the future across every region and nation of the UK. We are helping British businesses to thrive in some of the world’s largest and fastest-growing markets through our Digital Trade Network for Asia-Pacific,” said Trevelyan.

The UK is already a major player in digital trade but barriers have often caused many business opportunities to be disrupted in recent times, especially to the supply chain. While digital services may be able to overcome these barriers, the global digital trade industry is expected to see a huge boom as well.

Some of the services in digital trade include supply chain tools like warehouse management software, paperless technologies, cybersecurity not to mention blockchain. The UK is currently home to some of the largest tech unicorns like fintech giant Revolut and food delivery company Deliveroo as well as a handful of decacorns.

The UK is hoping the five-point plan will boost the service sector growth and see more partnerships and agreements forged. This includes pursuing a Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore and joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes 11 dynamic Indo-Pacific markets.