Brexit triumph: UK and Italy kick off talks on ‘win-win’ trade partnership

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Speaking alongside Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio after a G20 meeting in Sorrento, the UK’s new International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said that “enhancing our bilateral relationship with Italy is a win-win, which will boost export opportunities and investment promotion for our businesses”. Trade between the UK and Italy, the world’s eighth largest economy, was worth £38bn blast year.

Ms Trevelyan said: “Italy is our ninth-largest trading partner, while the UK is Italy’s fifth-largest export market – I am delighted we are kicking off this discussion.”

“The UK and Italy are also working side-by-side to deliver a successful Cop26 summit. The next 18 months are critical for our planet and together we will lead by example to accelerate progress towards a green, resilient and inclusive recovery.”

As a member of the EU, Italy’s trade with the UK is currently governed by the EU wide deal, which some exporters have blamed for decreased trade between the two countries.

But Ms Trevelyan said the talks could boost exports to the country, including life sciences and defence, while helping to improve ties between the nations in digital services and green technology.

Historically, Italy and the UK have cooperated closely on defence production, including on large products such as the EH 101 heavy helicopters.

The dialogue is expected to lead to annual ministerial talks, in order to foster innovative commercial partnerships and stronger ties between UK and Italian CEOs, the Department for International Trade said.

It will also promote inward investment, including in low-carbon industries such as onshore and offshore wind, hydrogen, and carbon capture storage, plus the food and drink industry and tech sector – where UK’s research and development strengths can help support Italian scale-ups.

The talks will also seek opportunities for greater collaboration and sharing of best practice between the two countries’ export credit organisations – UK Export Finance and the Italian Export Credit Agency – helping companies looking to grow.

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Cooperation between Italy and the UK on foreign policy has been made easier with the appointment of Mario Draghi as Italian prime minister.

Although he is a staunch supporter of the EU, he is more sceptical about links with Russia and China, often the preference of Italy’s populist parties.

Some of the most popular British products exported to Italy last year included cars worth £829million– equivalent to 10% of all UK goods exported to Italy – and £383million worth of medicinal and pharmaceutical products.

British consumers also bought £1.2bn worth of Italian clothing and imported £860million worth of beverages.

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Ms Trevelyan met with other key partners at the G20 trade ministers’ summit, including India, Singapore and Canada.

They met to discuss the global trading system ahead of the twelfth World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference (MC12) taking place next month.

This was Ms Trevelyan’s first international summit since becoming International Trade Secretary at the Cabinet reshuffle in September.

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