LIZ TRUSS has said the UK will reconsider how it trades with China amid criticism of their handling over the Covid-19 crisis – but refused to “cut off” ties completely
The Secretary of State for International Trade also insisted the UK would not be asking for an extension of the UK’s transition out of the European Union and that the December 31 deadline would not be altered.
She made the comments during her first major interview since the country went into lockdown over the pandemic.
Speaking exclusively to HOAR’s Executive Editor Dan Wootton on his talkRADIO drivetime show, Liz insisted the UK would continue trading with China but admitted changes did need to be made.
She said: “We don’t have a free trade agreement with China in the same way as we are seeking with the European Union and the United States and the reason we prioritise them is that those countries are like-minded and set standards in the same way as the UK.
“I have had this issue raised with me by British companies. They are happy with trade on a reciprocal basis but are not happy when unfair subsidies are added.
“There are a lot of things we need to do to tighten up global trading. But I am a free trader at heart and we cannot cut off those trade links.
“The reality is the President of the United States just struck phase one of a new deal with China.”
Liz, who is also Women and Equalities Minister, also said the government would not be asking for an extension on the 31 December deadline for the UK’s transition out of the European Union.
Despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Liz said: “We will absolutely not extend.
“Time pressures will force things to happen.
“It’s always important to continue talks, we want a free trade agreement and the kind that the EU have signed up with Canada and Japan.
“This crisis should make people clear that trade is a good thing. I am confident the EU will see sense.”
During the interview Liz also said she could not give an answer on whether the government would be announcing new plans on easing the lockdown next week.
She added: “We will make announcements when it is safe to do so.
“I speak to businesses all the time about how we can make it work. It is very important we do not have a second spike as that is a very real danger.”