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Economy Economy

Support the global multilateral rules-based trade system

Last updated: 04:24pm 6 September 2019

We will continue to support the global multilateral rules-based trade system.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.15

Our verdict

The “global multilateral rules-based trade system” refers to a system of regulations and agreements governing trade between different countries. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the largest and generally considered the most important body regulating global trade. This policy of support for the global rules-based trade system can be assessed by looking at UK government involvement in and support for the WTO.

The UK’s relationship with the WTO is complicated by ongoing uncertainty around Britain’s exit from the European Union (see various policies in our Europe category). However, the UK will certainly have to remain part of the WTO to guarantee future economic stability, whether inside or outside of the EU. To that end, the International Trade Secretary attended the WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017, confirming commitment to the WTO, as well as the desire to establish new trade initiatives.

In spite of the confusion surrounding Brexit negotiations with the EU, the government has been actively planning for post-Brexit relations with the WTO:

The government again affirmed their commitment in February 2019, as the then International Trade Secretary Liam Fox spoke of the importance of multilateral systems and working with the WTO. He also outlined the government’s initiatives for 2019 with the WTO.

This is a promise to “continue to support” the global multilateral rules-based trade system. The evidence above shows continued support and engagement with the WTO, demonstrating support of rules-based multilateral trade. On that basis we’re marking this as ‘done’.

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