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Middle East to be UK investment target after EU exit

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May arrives on the first day of an EU summit in Brussels on Dec. 14. (AFP)
LONDON: A new British commercial push in the Middle East is being lined up as part of a wider UK initiative to tap key markets as the country exits the EU.
The Middle East is among a number of regions that will be targeted by new UK trade commissioners, according to the Department of International Trade (DIT) in London.
It comes as Britain seeks to bolster its trade beyond the EU as it prepares for Brexit.
EU leaders have agreed to open talks on a future relationship with Britain once it leaves the bloc, but warned it would be “dramatically difficult” to reach a deal before Brexit in 2019.
A DIT spokesman told Arab News: “Working with governments and businesses across the Middle East, the incoming commissioners will be responsible for unblocking barriers to trade in the region, as well as opening up opportunities for UK companies to export to and invest in the Middle East.”
He added the commissioners would open up new opportunities for UK companies to export to and invest in the Middle East, and work with investors looking at the UK as a destination for outward investment, he said.
Part of the idea is to form a network of senior leaders who can advise British ministers on international trade issues.
The trade commissioners will “head the global operations of DIT, leading on export promotion, inward and outward direct investment, and trade policy overseas on behalf of the UK government,” said the spokesman.
They will be senior civil service appointments, and should be confirmed during the first half of 2018.
UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “We will be seeking the brightest and the best, from both the public and private sectors. They will provide intelligence on the ground, deciding what tailored action is required in their region, and playing a vital role in our future global trading relationships,” he said.
Earlier this year, UK prime minister Theresa May said in a speech in London that Gulf states had already expressed an interest in striking deals with Britain.
A number of high-level delegations have visited the region in 2017, including Finance Minister Philip Hammond, former Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince Charles, according to a report by Forbes. The publication added that May has told GCC leaders she wants to forge a new trade arrangement for the whole of the Gulf area.
But no formal trade deal can be inked before Britain leaves the EU.

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