The Rt. Hon.
MP is the
Secretary of State for International Trade
. His department is quite new, being one of two departments formed after the UK's June 23 referendum and the country's decision to leave the European Union. The other new department is the
Department for Exiting the European Union
. The latter is, obviously, a wholly new department, created for a wholly new situation. The Department for International Trade, however, is in sense, not quite so new. More on that in the Comment Section.
On September 27, Mr. Fox was in Geneva, where that afternoon, he spoke on one of the panels in this year's WTO Public Forum. The theme for the 2016 Forum was "Inclusive Trade," and the title of the panel with Liam Fox was "Inclusive Trade and SMEs." To be sure, Mr. Fox did comment on trade and small and medium sized enterprises, noting, for example, that 99 percent of private British firms are SMEs and that they employ some 15 million people.
It was his comments on Brexit, however, that caught our attention, especially that sentence "
We have our own schedules that we currently share with the rest of the EU."
We will come back to that too in the Comment Section. First, however, here is more of what Mr. Fox said about Brexit to those in the audience at this year's WTO Public Forum.
"[T]his [upholding the UK's WTO commitments] will not stop us pursuing a more liberalized trade agenda in the future.
"As I have said, the decision of the British people to leave the European Union is not symptomatic of a people looking inwards, but a people who want to take more control of our laws, our money, and our borders. We are a proud and outward looking trading nation. We want Europe to succeed and be a vibrant partner in global affairs, economics, and security.
"But in the era of globalization, we want to be free to help shape an even more transparent, more open, and more liberal trading environment, an environment that not only brings success to businesses large and small alike, but also stability to our societies and prosperity to all our citizens. And I think that is a future worth fighting for. "
Two days later, on September 29, Mr. Fox was back in England, where he gave a strong speech in support of free trade at the Manchester Town Hall. Like many such speeches, it included a condemnation of protectionism. "It may be a short-term vote winner or temporarily prop up failing industries," he said, "[but] it is always the consumer and ultimately the poorest in society that ultimately lose out."
The same speech also included references to the UK's strengths and to the UK's history as a founding member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Let's take them one at a time:
Citing strengths of industry and character, Mr. Fox said:
"We are the fifth largest economy in the world and ranked in the top 6 countries in the world as a place to do business."
"Here in the Northwest of England, a car rolls off the production line in JLR [Jaguar Land Rover] every 80 seconds, exported to 170 markets in the world."
"The West Midlands is the only UK region which has a trade surplus in goods with China, and every 2.5 seconds a Rolls-Royce Powered aircraft takes off or lands somewhere in the world"
"I believe the UK is in a prime position to become a world leader in free trade because of the brave and historic decision of the British people to leave the European Union."
On the topic of the UK and the WTO, he said:
"The UK after all was a key architect of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which later became the WTO - and we will continue to work within the WTO to build on its successful work in taking an axe to red tape across borders, phasing out distortive export subsidies, and scrapping trillions of dollars' worth of tariffs."
"The UK is a full and founding member of the WTO, though we have chosen to be represented by the EU in recent years."
"If other nations are hanging back, then the UK will happily lead the charge for global free trade."