- Other links
As an open economy the UK benefits from a liberalised world trade system.
It is in all of our interests that the momentum of liberalisation is maintained so that the opportunities posed though trade liberalisation can reach both developed and developing countries.
There are many ‘free trade issues’ that affect the way that the negotiations progress in the World Trade Organisation. Although members have joined the system making commitments to open their markets and to abide by the rules, with 148 WTO members, and each having their national priorities, the development of multilaterally agreed rules is a complex process.
There are issues that impede world economic growth. Industrial tariffs are considered a protectionist measure, as they increase the price of imported goods in a domestic market. Although rules of origin can be a genuine to determine the national/territorial provenance of goods for trade purposes, these are complex and can prove to unnecessarily be a barrier to trade. This is also the case for technical barriers to trade. These can exists when a country applies technical regulations, standards or procedures for assessing conformity, to impose an unnecessary restriction on international trade.
Barriers to trade can take different forms. The UK is among the world's top services exporters, but domestic regulation can be a considerable obstruction. Although there is a general consensus among many countries that trade liberalisation fosters competition, anti-competitive behaviour can also significantly distort market access.
Investment is widely recognised as one of the key factors in economic growth. But to encourage development and research a strong system for intellectual property rights, including copyright, trademarks and patents, protecting innovative products and technology from counterfeiting is vital.
There are mechanisms in place that attempt to create the conditions to aid global economic growth, with particular consideration to developing countries.Trade facilitation focuses on simplification and rationalisation of customs and other administrative procedures that get in the way of trading across borders.
Anti dumping is designed to allow countries to take action against imports that are dumped in their market and can then be sold at less than the normal value, damaging the domestic industry. Government procurement should form an integral part of the world's trading rules because it can result in better services for less. Transparent and fair public procurement procedures assist good governance and help to combat bribery and corruption, whilst improving the competitiveness of suppliers.
The Market Access Centre of Excellence is the first port of call for UK exporters facing trade barriers in markets. It provides advice and co-ordinates action on combating barriers to trade in non-European Union (EU) countries that may disadvantage our exporters.
To make the WTO effective it crucially has to have an efficient enforcement of its rules and agreements. This is achieved through the WTO rules and dispute settlement system, the results of which are binding on all parties.
For further information on particular key free trade issues and sectors see the links on the left hand side of this page.
Tel: 0207 215 5000
Tel: 020 7215 6740 (Minicom)