Anne-Marie' speech to Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Sunday 3rd October 2021.
Speech text below:
Conference, good afternoon.
It’s great to be back here with you all today, speaking to you just across the road from Manchester’s Free Trade Hall.
As a Northumbrian MP who won her constituency from the liberal democrats, I know something about business and pleasure
Berwick - The first of the blue bricks the north east wall.
Berwick-upon-Tweed was a centre for trade and communications for hundreds of years.
Much like the UK has been and can be again in the future…
Berwick's early prosperity was built on international commerce.
In the mid eighteenth century, salmon caught along that fine stretch of the river Tweed crossing the border between England and Scotland and Northumbrian eggs were mainstays of London restaurants.
Wool from the Northumbrian uplands exported, and timber and iron imported from Scandinavia and the Baltics made Berwick prosperous.
The ballast used for returning wool trader ships from holland was red tiles - and that’s why Berwick’s buildings recall Dutch homes.
Early proponents of the circular economy, where nothing is wasted.
I am thrilled to be addressing you as the Trade Secretary and President of the Board of Trade today.
I’m proud to say that I’m the fourth female President of the Board of Trade since it was established in 1672.
Four women in 349 years.
A shocking statistic you’ll agree, that I’m glad to say is gradually being corrected.
Still, more progress than the Labour Party have had with female leaders.
Who knows, after Sir Keir’s performance at their conference last week, perhaps they’ll start making more progress soon!
But enough of their division, let me tell you about what we can do for businesses and consumers right across our family of nations.
I’ve taken over from a great Trade Secretary, who will make a fine Foreign Secretary.
Together, with Liz taking the lead on diplomatic engagement and me sealing trade deals and growing our exporter base, we can be a global tour de force banging the drum for British business.
Using our new freedom to negotiate our own free trade agreements to chart a new course for our country – a truly Global Britain.
In the last five years, we have secured trade agreements with 68 countries and one with the European Union.
Altogether they’re worth £744 billion of trade between the UK and partners around the world.
I wonder what the next five years will bring.
We have so many more partners ambitious to join our growing fleet of free trade agreements.
Australia – the largest producer of lithium, a vital component in the construction of zero emissions vehicles
New Zealand – a partnership currently worth in excess of £2 billion annually
The United States – the biggest source of investment into the UK.
And of course, India – one of the UK’s biggest export markets.
Vital trade deals that will create jobs and opportunities
and create wealth across the UK and around the world.
Wealth that pays for the vital public services that we’ve all been so reliant upon over the last eighteen months.
As one of this country’s earlier foreign secretaries, Lord Palmerston, who signed the first free-trade agreement with France in 1860, knew so well…
Trade can happen anywhere
It’s just transfer of goods or services between a willing buyer and a willing seller.
But trade agreements, turbocharge and streamline that transfer.
A free trade agreement sets out the opportunity for our unashamedly brilliant UK goods and services to be shared around the world.
Where we can enjoy goods and services from other nations in return
Setting out a framework for mutual growth around the world.
Because it is capitalism and free trade that has far higher potential to raise people’s quality of life than protectionism ever will.
As the Prime Minister said in his Greenwich speech last year, in 1990 37 percent of the world’s population were in absolute poverty - that is now down to less than ten per cent.
That did not happen by accident.
And as I am keen to remind people, my department covers international trade but it also covers investment and of course exports.
As a former Minister for Energy and net zero, travelling the length and breadth of the country, and meeting representatives
I know we have so much to offer the world.
Whether it’s world-leading clean energy technologies,
and firms like the world’s largest hydrogen-producing electrolyser factory in Sheffield,
or being the first country in the world to install a floating offshore wind farm off the northern coasts of Scotland,
to the researchers and entrepreneurs in Oxford who engineered a new type of solar cell, making it far more efficient than they are presently.
And the development of small nuclear reactors which will offer cities long-term stable energy security.
This sector contains some of the great industries and entrepreneurs of tomorrow,
A sector that has – since 2010 – seen $122 billion invested in UK clean energy generation projects.
And one that is vital in our global efforts to tackle climate change.
As countries around the world race to decarbonise their economies, these new technologies – like the UK’s first prototype commercial fusion reactor – could herald a new era of energy products.
But our success need not be limited to the net zero industries alone.
Our maritime manufacturing firms are
Businesses that support almost a million jobs in the UK,
Where a third of products are exported around the world
And support the Prime Minister’s vision for a shipbuilding renaissance.
In keeping with our fine heritage as a free-trading island nation – as my cabinet colleague the Defence Secretary knows well, this will ensure we keep trade flowing and the sea lanes open
Thanks to our world-class Royal navy.
With more than 97% goods travelling by sea and 99% of data in undersea cables, it’s never been more important to keep free trade flowing.
Good and services.
Physical and digital.
The fuel that fires the engines of growth and prosperity.
In the last decade alone, inward investment has created more than 700,000 jobs across the UK
And over the last 12 months, there has been a barrage of investments in the UK.
From Sunderland to Ellesmere Port to Derby to the banks of the Humber
With GE Renewable energy investing in a new manufacturing plant in Teesside supporting over 2,000 new jobs
Nissan’s expansion in Sunderland that created over 1,600 jobs,
To the recently announced £10 billion private capital investment from the UAE for energy transition, infrastructure and technology development.
Businesses are investing right across the country.
Firm foundations to level up.
And as we will show later this month at the Global Investment Summit, there’s never been a better time to invest in the UK.
I couldn’t do any of this without my brilliant ministerial team…
And of course all of our trade envoys.
With Manchester’s Free Trade Hall to serve as a reminder.
A venue constructed to commemorate Manchester’s role in the repeal of tariffs and trade restrictions…
The very venue where Winston Churchill spoke passionately about the need for free trade
To quote him, “Free Trade is now more than ever necessary for the well-being of the United Kingdom” …
Conference, I could not agree more with him.
Those words are as true today, as they were over a hundred years ago.
Free and fair trade.
In our past, nothing else has matched their potential to increase opportunity.
In the history of our planet, they are the real rebellion against extinction.
While some may forget it, it’s my job – all of our jobs – to remind people and unleash Britain’s potential.