“The announcement shows our commitment to helping developing countries grow their economies and reduce poverty through trade,” International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said in a statement on Saturday.
It allays Bangladesh’s fears of losing duty-free access to the UK market in the aftermath of Brexit.
Around £20 billion a year of goods are shipped to the UK from these developing countries, accounting for around half of the nation’s clothing, a quarter of coffee and other everyday goods such as cocoa, bananas and roses.
The new commitment means that around 48 countries across the globe, from Bangladesh to Sierra Leone, Haiti and Ethiopia will continue to benefit from duty-free exports into the UK on all goods other than arms and ammunition, the British Prime Minister’s Office said.
Britain will also seek to expand relations with nations, including Jamaica, Pakistan and Ghana.
Without these trading arrangements, clothing, for example, from some of the poorest countries such as Bangladesh could face tariffs of over 10 percent, which could be passed on to UK consumers through higher prices at the till.
Access to the markets of developed countries also provides vital trading opportunities for the world’s poorest people and creates jobs, the UK said.
“These opportunities help people to work their way out of poverty and build our trading partners of the future.”
In 2015, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam together exported 34 million dresses — one dress for every woman in the UK.
“None of these countries can defeat poverty without sustained economic growth – jobs and investment opportunities are vital to helping the world’s poorest people stand on their own two feet,” the British Prime Minister’s Office said.
On the other hand, the UK is trying to cement its standing in the world by increasing trade links. So it is turning to the word’s poorest nations as it is under pressure to shore up trade because Brexit puts existing deals on an uncertain footing.
After decades of access to the European Union’s single market, the UK now has to strike out alone, following the 2016 vote to leave the bloc.
In the Brexit negotiations that began on Jun 19 in Brussels, the EU is demanding clarity on the future of its citizens living in Britain before talks on a post-EU trading relationship begin.