Following the groundbreaking Trade Partnerships Conference supported by ACRE, Amjad Bashir writes on the new opportunities for free trade.
Last week, while all eyes were on Westminster for the UK Chancellor’s Budget speech and its fallout, a groundbreaking event was taking place a short distance away up the Thames.
It went little noticed given the competition for attention, but in time I believe it may be seen as an important starting point for the United Kingdom and the European Union's post-Brexit journeys towards new partnerships and a new prosperity.
The event was a conference on trading opportunities between Britain, the EU and Pakistan, particularly in the fields of technology, IT services and digital commerce. It was the first such bilateral conference to be held since the referendum – and what we hope will the forerunner of many.
I hosted it at Stamford Bridge stadium with the support of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe – with star speakers including ACRE President Jan Zahradil, ACRE secretary general Dan Hannan, Pakistan’s Minister for State for IT and Telecoms Anusha Rahman, and former Austrialian PM Tony Abbott, who himself concluded three major trade deals with China, Japan and Korea in just two years.
Meeting under the banner, Pakistan as a Digital Powerhouse, we drew some 150 politicians, entrepreneurs, business figures and dignitaries from 15 countries, all there to explore the huge potential for new trading partnerships which will open up post Brexit.
Too many people have presented this decision by the British people as an act of isolationism. They talk of the UK turning its back on Europe. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Our country is not turning its back on anybody or anything, but we are facing outwards towards the whole world.
The uncertainties of our time are an opportunity for the UK and the EU to pursue free trade with renewed vigour, embracing the greater prosperity and opportunites it will bring.
We have opened up for ourselves, quite literally to a world of opportunity.