Liz Truss explains benefits of global trade to Sussex businesses at forum held at the home of Wiston's world-famous wines
Liz Truss flew in from the United States to the heart of rural Sussex to raise a glass to the supreme quality of the counties' wines and to encourage local businesses to make the most of the rapidly growing export opportunities in a post-Brexit world.
The Secretary of State for International Trade was the keynote speaker on Friday July 16 at SussExport held at the Wiston Estate near Steyning where world renowned wines of the same name are produced.
"I've just flown in from North California," she told the audience of Sussex business owners and leaders, "but I can tell you two things. The weather is better here - and the wine is better here!
"Wiston estate where we are today produces world-beating wine which regularly wins against champagne in taste tests."
But her main message was for all businesses to seize the exporting opportunity and make the most of the Made In Britain brand which was respected across the globe.
"The United Kingdom is an independent trading nation for the first time in almost 50 years and we are getting back our 'trade muscle' as I call it - and we are seeing businesses lean into those opportunities, we are seeing Government lean into those opportunities and we are seeing our international partners lean into those opportunities.
"Fundamentally trade is a win-win. We sell more, it helps us to become more innovative, more competitive and the wine trade is a classic example of where we have learnt from other countries and they have learnt from us. That is what trade is all about.
"We have now got agreement with 68 countries - the most recent being Australia where we achieved agreement in principle only last month. Those agreements cover 744 billion pounds worth of trade. Almost 65 per cent of the trade the UK does is now subject to a preferential free trade agreement.
"Bear in mind we have only been out of the [EU] customs union and the single market for six months and I think that is huge progress. It shows not only the hard work of the department of trade officials but it also shows that people want to do business with the UK.
"I've just told you about the deals we have done already but there is a huge pipeline of countries who want to do deals with us. We are currently negotiating to enter a comprehensive and progressive trans-Pacific partnership which covers 11 Pacific nations, it's a total GDP of nine trillion and that is where some of the huge opportunities lie for Britain.
"By 2030, 66 per cent of the world's middle classes will live in Asia - and what kind of things do they want to buy? Well they want to buy things like English sparkling wine and Scotch whisky; they want to buy nice cars which we produce in huge numbers in this country; and they want to buy our services - our data and digital services, our computer games, our financial services, our legal services.
"And the British brand is one of the most trusted. People understand that we have high standards.
"This autumn we want to negotiate with India. India is a tech superpower as are we and there are going to be huge opportunities there. There's also the Gulf states again where there are big opportunities, not just for British lamb but for all kinds of products particularly in services."
The event opened with a speech by George Brandis QC Australian High Commissioner who spoke in detail and with enormous enthusiasm about the new trade agreement and the importance of the relationship between Australia and the UK.
Other sessions featured detailed Q&A sessions with experts on how to set up your business for export success and some of the grants that were available to facilitate that.
Selling your business story and the importance of place and provenance was identified as a key feature of success. To that end Kirsty Goring, the marketing director of Wiston Estate Winery shared their story of success and Gary Shipton the Director and Editor In Chief of this and its sister newspapers spoke about trusted news and information.
The day was spearheaded by the MP for Arundel and the South Downs Andrew Griffith who was a former Business Adviser to the Prime Minister.