Euro­pean Union must prove it’s open for busi­ness af­ter Brexit, says Fox

Muscat Daily - - BUSINESS -

Lon­don, UK - The Euro­pean Union (EU) risks miss­ing out on in­ter­na­tional trade un­less it shows it’s open for busi­ness by giv­ing Bri­tain a good deal on Brexit, a senior UK min­is­ter said.

In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox said in an in­ter­view in Lon­don that in­vestors and of­fi­cials around the world are wait­ing for signs that the re­main­ing 27 EU coun­tries will still be com­pet­i­tive af­ter the pro-free mar­ket UK leaves.

“The rest of the world is look­ing to see what is go­ing to hap­pen,” he said. “If there are bar­ri­ers and im­ped­i­ments to trade and in­vest­ment in Europe that don’t ex­ist to­day, that makes Europe it­self less at­trac­tive to in­ter­na­tional in­vestors.”

Fox’s com­ments come as Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May pre­pares to lead a UK del­e­ga­tion to China as part of her ef­forts to in­crease trade af­ter Brexit. Ne­go­ti­a­tions on the fu­ture UK-EU trad­ing terms are due to be­gin in March but May says she’ll def­i­nitely take the coun­try out of the bloc’s sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union.

In­vestors are ‘won­der­ing what the EU-27 will be like without Bri­tish in­flu­ence’, Fox said. “So a clear sig­nal has to go out to global in­vestors that not just Bri­tain is open for busi­ness but that Europe re­mains open for busi­ness.”

Fox was speak­ing in Bloomberg’s Lon­don head­quar­ters, as he dis­cussed prepa­ra­tions for a UK-or­gan­ised ‘fes­ti­val of in­no­va­tion’ in Hong Kong later this year. On a re­cent trip, he dis­cussed ex­pand­ing trade with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, which told him the UK’s re­sources of ‘creativ­ity and in­no­va­tion’ made it an ideal po­ten­tial part­ner, he said.

In a decade’s time, ‘right across Asia-Pa­cific you’ll have a greater Bri­tish en­gage­ment than you have to­day’, he said, cit­ing a 25 per cent jump in UK ex­ports to China last year.

“By 2030, China will have 220 cities of more than a mil­lion peo­ple,” Fox said. “The whole of Europe will have 35. I think it does give you an idea of the scale that we’re talking about in terms of where growth is com­ing and where the eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties will lie.”

(AFP)

UK’s In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox

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