Britain launches preferential trade scheme with developing countries

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Britain on Monday begun implementing a preferential trading scheme with 65 poor and developing countries to replace similar arrangements in place when the country was a member of the European Union, according to a statement.

The Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) removes or reduces tariffs and simplifies trading rules, the UK’s Department of Trade and Business said in a statement.

DCTS covers 65 countries with a population of 3.3 billion people, over half of whom are in Africa, the statement said, and added the scheme was “more generous” than similar arrangements the UK was formerly part of under its EU membership.

Under the scheme, UK businesses will save over 770 million pounds annually through cut or removed tariffs on over 9 billion pounds worth of imports like clothes, food and children’s toys.

Launching the scheme in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Monday, the UK’s Minister for International Trade, Nigel Huddleston, said DCTS would lower import costs on a range of products.

“It (scheme) will create opportunities for businesses around the world, supporting livelihoods, creating jobs and diversifying local and international supply chains,” he said.

Ethiopia hopes the scheme will allow it to exploit the UK market and revive its export sector which suffered a setback after the U.S. suspended the Horn of Africa country from its African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade arrangement over alleged human rights abuses.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Hassan Mohammed, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Industry, said the country’s manufacturing sector had been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the AGOA suspension.

“The manufacturing sector export has been on decline,” he said. “(The new UK trade scheme) ..opens (the) door for our nation to…expand export capacities.”

(Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by Hereward Holland and Elias Biryabarema; editing by Ed Osmond)