New commissioners appointed to promote British trade in key markets

By on 18/02/2018
Entrance to the Department for International Trade in Whitehall (Image courtesy: David Holt).

The UK government has begun appointing a set of new trade commissioners, in a bid to strengthen its support for exports as the country faces an uncertain future outside the EU.

The first three appointments announced cover China, South Asia and North America, and represent the first of nine people in the job of Her Majesty’s trade commissioner (HMTC). Each job will cover a broad geographical area, with further appointments due to be made shortly for Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.

Richard Burn was named as Her Majesty’s trade commissioner for China during last month’s 50-strong trade visit to the country, led by prime minister Theresa May and international trade secretary Liam Fox.

Feel the Burn

Richard Burn, the UK’s HM trade commissioner for China.

Burn, who was formerly the Department for International Trade’s (DIT’s) director general in China, has extensive business experience in the country, including co-founding market access and investment consultancy Batey-Burn and directorships with the multinational companies Diageo and APCO Worldwide.

Announcing the appointment, Fox said: “DIT was established to deliver a new approach to trade and investment promotion and this requires a new, senior, commercial team to lead our trade work overseas.

“With his existing wealth of trade and investment experience, Richard will provide intelligence on the ground, deciding what tailored action is required in China and playing a vital role in our future global trading relationships.”

Getting closer to the Far East

Crispin Simon, the UK’s HM trade commissioner for South Asia.

Burn said: “China presents unrivalled opportunities for British companies. My role as HM trade commissioner for China will be to build on the strong links already in place, as we intensify the ‘golden era’ of UK-China trade. My top priority will be to achieve better market access for sectors in which the UK excels.”

The appointments of Antony Phillipson and Crispin Simon as Her Majesty’s trade commissioners for North America and South Asia respectively were announced by Fox earlier this month.

Phillipson was formerly the UK’s consul general in New York and director general of international trade North America, while Simon was formerly British deputy high commissioner for Western India and DIT’s director general for India and South Asia.

Trade touts

Antony Phillipson, the UK’s HM trade commissioner for North America.

“With the IMF predicting that 90% of growth will come from outside the EU, we need to look at where the emerging markets are and put UK businesses in prime position to benefit,” Fox said, adding that the new commissioners will have more autonomy to do what works best in their region to improve trade.

Each HMTC will lead on export promotion, inward and outward investment and trade policy overseas on behalf of the UK government, the DIT said. Their work will include developing and delivering a regional trade plan that sets out the department’s priorities for the market.

Two of the posts will also involve consul general responsibilities for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the cities where they are based.

About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist based in London, who specialises in international news. She worked on daily newspapers for 16 years, reporting extensively on both general news and education. She was Education Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.

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