From speaking to people who run and work for small businesses, I know there’s only one thing on your mind at the moment.
Coronavirus has delivered a crippling blow to economies worldwide, and small businesses can help to overcome the impact.
As the Prime Minister has said, this government will take every step that we can to ensure that businesses are protected and that our economy remains strong.
You might wonder where trade comes into this. Trade is central to the economy: we know that trade can give us security at home and opportunities abroad – opening new markets for business, bringing investment, better jobs, higher wages and lower prices just as we need them most.
And as FSB has highlighted - of the nearly six million small businesses across the country, roughly a third already trade overseas.
That’s why, in this important time for trade, we want the UK’s small businesses to be at the core of our future Free Trade Agreements.
We are seeking a stand-alone SME Chapter and SME Dialogue in any future UK Free Trade Agreement - something we are already exploring for a UK-US trade agreement.
This will provide support to the SMEs that would like to start exporting, as well as the 30,000 SMEs across the UK that trade with the US already.
We want to make sure that small businesses make the best use of the new Free Trade Agreements as they are completed. And by working collaboratively with the private sector we can come out of the current crisis prepared and ready to trade with the world.
We also know that trade barriers disproportionately affect small businesses like yours. That’s why our new UK Global Tariff – launched yesterday and coming into effect on 1 January 2021 – will make it easier and cheaper for you to import goods from overseas by scrapping red tape and other unnecessary barriers to trade. It will also drop tariffs to zero across a wide range of products used in UK production, such as tools for tapping and threading metal, spanners and wrenches.
We know that more trade is essential if the UK is to overcome this unprecedented economic challenge.
While the crisis has sparked a worrying protectionist trend worldwide, you can be sure that we will use our voice as a new independent trading nation to champion free trade, lower barriers at every opportunity, and get the best deal for British businesses.