Liz Truss: Trade deals are being set up at the 'right speed'
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The Foreign Secretary highlighted the Pacific trade bloc, Israel, India – where she will take her next official visit – and the Gulf states as possible targets for trade deals. Mr Biden’s election as President has pushed back the prospect of a transatlantic trade deal – with Ms Truss refusing to guarantee there would be one in place by the end of the decade.
She told a Conservative Party conference fringe event: “I don’t agree with you that that’s the be all and end all of trade.
“My message to the Americans is ‘we’re ready when you are ready’ but there’s a whole world out there, there are lots of fast-growing parts of the world who want to do business with Britain and there’s a full pipeline of trade deals we are negotiating.”
Ms Truss, who was international trade secretary until September’s reshuffle, said there was a foreign policy need for the UK, US and allies to trade with developing countries to prevent them being drawn into the orbit of “authoritarian regimes”.
China has used its “belt and road” initiative to forge economic links with countries throughout the developing world, financing infrastructure projects to help boost its influence.
Ms Truss told the Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics podcast event: “What I think is really important, this goes to broader foreign policy, is that we, the Americans, the Australians – our friends and allies – are reaching out to developing countries to trade with them.
“Because if we are not reaching out to them, who is? Well, the answer is it’s authoritarian regimes who don’t have their best interests at heart, who don’t believe in freedom and democracy like we do.”
She said China had to “play by the rules” on the international stage.
She explained: “My view is the way we challenge authoritarian regimes across the world is we do it through strength.
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“This is why infrastructure agreements with developing countries are so important, so they are not drawn into the orbit of authoritarian regimes.”
She added: “It’s why trade agreements are so important, because we want our trade to be with like-minded partners.
“Of course we have to trade with China, it’s an important trading partner, but it has to be reliable trade and there can’t be intellectual property violation, there can’t be forced technology transfer.”
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Ms Truss also took the opportunity to defend Prime Minister Boris Johnson from criticism in the wake of the petrol shortages and other problems with some have blamed on Brexit.
She said: “I don’t believe in a command and control economy, so I don’t believe that the Prime Minister is responsible for what’s in the shops.
“This is why we have a free enterprise economy. I’m sure the goods will be delivered into our shops.”
Addressing Britain’s wider aims, Ms Truss said: “My vision is to strengthen our economic and security ties in order to build a network of liberty around the world.
“We will have a positive, proactive and patriotic foreign policy that expands trade routes, strengthens security partnerships, and supports development around the world.
“We want to trade with and invest in more countries to our mutual benefit – which leads to freer and wealthier societies aligned to the cause of liberty, spreading the human rights and values we believe in.
“We must win this battle for economic influence – and this starts with forging closer ties with our friends and allies.”
Ms Truss said the UK is in talks with Japan about better military access and operational support.
She added the UK wants “closer security ties” with key allies such as India.
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