The U.K. government is doubling down on its commitment to trade with developing nations as it prepares to leave the European Union.
In a statement issued Saturday evening, the government pledged improved post-Brexit access to U.K. markets for developing nations.
â€œThe government will use Brexit to cement Britainâ€™s standing in the world and meet our commitments to the worldâ€™s poorest by securing their existing duty-free access to U.K. markets and providing new opportunities to increase trade links,â€ the statement said.
â€œThe commitment means that around 48 countries across the globe, from Bangladesh to Sierra Leone, Haiti and Ethiopia will continue to benefit from duty-free exports into the U.K. on all goods other than arms and ammunition, known as â€˜everything but arms.â€™â€
The statement addedÂ that the government will explore ways to expand ties with other developing nations â€” including Jamaica, Pakistan and Ghana â€” which currently have a mixture of reduced or zero tariffs on the goods they export to Britain.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said Brexit allowed the government to pursue free and fair trade that improves conditions for workers across the globe.
â€œOur departure from the EU is an opportunity to step up to our commitments to the rest of the world, not step away from them,â€ Fox said in the statement. â€œFree and fair trade has been the greatest liberator of the worldâ€™s poor, and todayâ€™s announcement shows our commitment to helping developing countries grow their economies and reduce poverty through trade.â€
International Development Secretary Priti Patel echoed Foxâ€™s remarks, saying, â€œThe U.K. is using its position as a great, global trading nation to seize opportunities to lift countries out of grinding poverty. This will â€Žgenerate the wealth, prosperity and investment needed to create millions of jobs and help the worldâ€™s poorest people stand on their own two feet.â€
The statement comes amid intense negotiations in Brussels over the U.K.â€™s future trading relationship with the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a hard Brexit that would remove the U.K. from the single market. But sinceÂ losing her parliamentary majority in this monthâ€™sÂ snap election, members of her own cabinet, such as ChancellorÂ Philip Hammond, have renewed theirÂ push for aÂ soft Brexit.
Other prominent British politicians, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan,Â have called on the U.K.Â to remain in the single market.