March 3, 2020 / 12:09 AM / 25 days ago

Truss urges WTO to crack down on unfair trade practices

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain, February 14, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will use its new independent seat at the World Trade Organization to push for a crackdown on unfair trade practices and protectionism, trade minister Liz Truss will say in a speech on Tuesday.

Previously represented at the Geneva-based trade body by the European Union, Britain became a member in its own right with its departure from the bloc at the end of January.

“We will make the case to update the WTO rulebook to tackle underlying trade tensions such as industrial subsidies, state-owned enterprises and forced technology transfer,” Truss will say in a speech to the WTO’s General Council in Geneva, according to advance extracts released by her office.

After decades outsourcing its trade policy to the EU, Britain is about to embark on negotiating free trade agreements with countries and trade blocs around the world.

Britain began talks on its post-Brexit relationship with the EU on Monday and hopes to reach a quick free trade agreement with the United States.

It is also in the process of developing its Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff schedule, which will enter into force on Jan. 1, 2021.

In her speech to the WTO, Truss will say Britain wants to “turn the rise in protectionist measures around”.

“So we will work with all nations that share this multilateral vision, to lead the defence of free, fair, rules-based international trade, pioneering a route to prosperity that lies through working together, not protectionism,” she will say.

Britain has also previously said one of its priorities in its newly expanded role will be to increase global trade in services.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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