Former Australian PM Tony Abbott to attend first post-Brexit trade meeting

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott speaking at the opening ceremony at the Commonwealth Heads of Government...

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott speaking at the opening ceremony at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre in Colombo, Sri Lanka; Chris Jackson - Credit: PA

Former Australian former prime minister Tony Abbott is set to attend his first post-Brexit trade meeting as the government's new Board of Trade meets for the first time.

The new-look panel of politicians, economists and industry figures comes as international trade secretary Liz Truss said it was a “critical moment for the UK and our trading relationship with the rest of the world”.

The meeting came as talks on the future relationship with the European Union – the UK’s biggest trading partner – were in a state of limbo.

The Board of Trade will also discuss the principles underpinning its work, including a commitment to the rule of law, at a time when the UK government has said it is prepared to breach the international agreement reached with the EU over Northern Ireland.

The board’s work will include reports on Commonwealth trade, delivering prime minister Boris Johnson’s “levelling-up” agenda, reform of the World Trade Organisation, and meeting green objectives.

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President of the Board of Trade Truss said: “This is a critical moment for the UK and our trading relationships with the rest of the world.

“Our re-emergence as an independent trading nation is an enormous opportunity, but it also comes at a time of rising protectionism amidst the challenges posed by coronavirus.

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“The revamped Board of Trade will play a critical role in helping us navigate and shape the new global trading environment.

“Just as great British reformers helped drive trade and prosperity in the 19th century, we want the new Board of Trade to become the Cobden, Peel and Bright of the 21st century and push new frontiers in areas like digital trade and the green economy, and ultimately help Britain unleash its full potential post-Brexit.”

Advisers on the Board of Trade include Abbott, former Tory MEP and Brexiteer Daniel Hannan and Labour ex-trade secretary Patricia Hewitt.

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