Department for International Trade to recruit trade commissioners for global SCS posts

Appointments expected in first half of 2018 will fulfil Conservative party manifesto promise

Liam Fox, international trade secretary, speaking during a business forum in Tokyo. Credit: Carl Court/PA 

By Tamsin Rutter

28 Nov 2017

The Department for International Trade has announced that next year it will hire a team of trade commissioners to be posted in nine key markets around the globe.

The new recruits will be sought from both the public and private sectors and will join the Senior Civil Service.

Fulfilling a Conservative party manifesto pledge, international trade secretary Liam Fox said the appointees will provide "intelligence on the ground" as Britain negotiates new post-Brexit trade deals.


Ahead of the 2017 general election the party promised its policies would help increase trade after Britain leaves the European Union. It said: "We will create a network of Her Majesty’s trade commissioners to head nine new regional overseas posts. These commissioners will lead export promotion, investment and trade policy overseas."

The new team of Her Britannic Majesty’s trade commissioners, announced yesterday, will represent the UK in Africa, Asia-Pacific, China, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America and South America.

They will play a "vital role" during Brexit, and as Britain "takes its place as a global champion of free trade in charge of its own independent trade policy", said the department.

It said that the 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.

DIT has drawn concern in the past for recruiting "almost exclusively from Whitehall", which lacks experienced trade negotiators because the EU has had direct responsibility for negotiating deals with the rest of the world.

But Fox confirmed that the trade commissioners, who are due to be confirmed in the first half of 2018, would be drawn from the private sector as well. 

He said: “This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to represent the UK in key markets around the world. We will be seeking the brightest and the best, from both the public and private sectors to use their extensive regional and in-country knowledge, together with their business and government expertise to help build a global Britain.

“The new HM trade commissioners will be providing a clear vision and direction to my department’s global operations. That will require providing intelligence on the ground, deciding what tailored action is required in their region, and playing a vital role in our future global trading relationships.”

A parliamentary answer earlier this year revealed that DIT spent £1.15m in recruitment fees to find senior staff in its first year of existence.

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