The International Trade Council is pleased to announce a landmark deal agreed by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that could potentially reduce trade costs by £113bn per year. Sixty-seven WTO members have agreed to cut red tape around licensing and qualifications, including the UK, the United States, EU, and China. These members represent 90% of all services trade. This agreement is an essential step towards removing the types of trade barriers most often experienced by service exporters. Sectors such as banking, IT, telecoms, architecture, and engineering could benefit the most from the deal.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK's International Trade Secretary, said that the UK stands to gain as it is the world's second-largest services exporter. The Department for International Trade believes that the new rules will make it easier for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized firms, to navigate foreign markets and obtain authorization to export overseas. The new rules will eliminate unreasonable and hidden fees, ensure timely processing of licensing applications, and accept electronic copies of qualifications by competent authorities.
The European Services Forum (ESF), which represents the interests of the European service sectors, has welcomed the agreement, saying it has called for such regulation for more than 20 years. The deal is expected to have the most significant savings on trade in finance and tech, which will help "ensure London retains its position as Europe's leading financial centre." The government said the deal demonstrated the kind of cooperation it wants to see at the WTO and demonstrated it can deliver trade rules fit for the 21st Century. The WTO aims to bring the new rules into force in 2023.