UK five-point plan for digital trade

The digital economy is playing an important part in the UK’s growth, with services and software supplied by the tech sector accounting for £326 billion of trade in 2019.

Given its importance, the new International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has set out a new five-point plan to support British businesses to export their services and help with inward investments into the industry.

Revealed during London Tech Week to an audience of industry leaders, the plan includes steps that aim to establish “a free and fair digital trade landscape to help UK businesses and consumers thrive”.

What are the five points within the digital trade plan? 

Under the five-point plan, the Department for International Trade will, according to its report:

  1. Create more open digital markets to ensure British consumers and businesses benefit from greater access to digital markets around the world;
  2. Call for free and trusted cross-border data flows that are simpler and cheaper for businesses. while maintaining high standards for personal data protection;
  3. Support consumer and business safeguards through enhanced consumer and intellectual property protections;
  4. Advocate for the development and adoption of innovative digital trading systems such as digital customs processes, e-contracting and paperless trading; and
  5. Seek out global cooperation on digital trade £via free trade agreements with international partners and using our G7 presidency and seat at the WTO to push for countries to become more open to digital trade.

Why is the plan needed? 

The Government has said that lots of UK businesses currently face regulatory barriers that prevent them from fully benefitting from digital technology. This includes:

  • Paperless trading
  • Unjustified requirements to localise data
  • Requirements to disclose their intellectual properties such as source code.

The points outlined above in the plan are aimed at tackling these and other issues so that digital trade is easier, less complicated and more cost-effective for UK businesses.

How will UK consumers benefit from the new digital trade plan? 

The Government has said that most consumers will be able to take advantage of greater access to international marketplaces offering a “wider variety and more affordable products and services”.

It is also committed to ensuring that UK consumers can enjoy a “secure digital economy which will remain underpinned by the UK’s strong data protection safeguards”.


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