New Board of Trade established by government

By Ian Pollock
Business reporter, BBC News

  • Published
Members of Britain's Unite trade union protest outside the Houses of Parliament in support of Bombardier workers in London, Britain, October 11, 2017Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Brexit, and disputes such as that involving Bombardier and Boeing, have made trade an increasingly vexed issue

The Board of Trade is to be revived as an advisory body to attract more inward investment to the UK and boost exports.

The government has given it the aim of spreading the benefits of free trade across the country.

The Board's first meeting will be in Bristol on Thursday, with the involvement of "prominent figures" in business and politics.

The International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said it would promote a "culture exporting and investing".

"There is a world of opportunity out there for UK businesses and the Board of Trade will help identify and unlock new export markets and encourage further inward investment," he said.

"The advisers on the Board will act as the 'eyes and ears' of the modern businesses community to ensure the benefits of free trade are spread equally across the country," Dr Fox added.

A government spokeswoman added that the Board's revival was part of ensuring that the country had a trade policy after Brexit, in which the UK will leave the European Union in March 2019.

As well as being a secretary of state, Dr Fox is already the President of the Board of Trade, a historic government position that was first established in the 17th Century.

Since the early 1970s, the title has been given to the most senior government minister associated with business, trade or industry.

Previous politicians who have enjoyed using the title have been Harold Wilson and Lord Heseltine.

The Board is formally a committee of the Privy Council, which means that only Privy Councillors can be members.

Only Dr Fox meets that requirement at the moment, so all the other individuals now being involved are being styled as advisers to the Board.

Among them are:

  • Collette Roche, head of personnel at Manchester Airport;
  • Brian Wilson, a former labour trade minister;
  • Heather Stevens, chairwoman of the Waterloo Foundation;
  • and Mark Nodder, chief executive of the Wrights Group.

The aim is that the Board and its advisers should meet four times a year.