DIT nears full set of trade commissioners with Africa appointment

Role intended to boost UK’s £28bn trade with the continent


By Richard Johnstone

20 Jun 2018

Emma Wade-Smith (right) with DIT secretary Liam Fox Photo DIT

The Department for International Trade has today named senior diplomat Emma Wade-Smith as the government’s trade commissioner for Africa as it continues to fill the SCS level posts to boost investment after Brexit.
Wade-Smith, who has served in Brussels, Chile, Mexico, Washington and more recently in Africa as DIT’s regional trade director, is the seventh trade commissioner appointed since international trade secretary Liam Fox announced the creation of the roles last November.

The commissioners will work with ambassadors around the world and the wider diplomatic network to ensure trade promotion is linked with other consular functions around the world to promote UK prosperity.


Wade-Smith is expected to build on existing UK trade with Africa, which was worth more than £28bn in 2016, and the announcement was made at a business forum discussing the Prosperity Fund, a UK government initiative to remove trade barriers, standardise regulations and improve the business environment in middle-income countries.

Fox said that trade is at the heart of the UK government’s approach to Africa, which is home to four of the world’s top six fastest-growing economies: Libya, Ethiopia, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire

“With young and growing populations, and the world’s fastest-growing middle class, there is huge potential for British businesses to create modern trading partnerships across Africa. Emma will help unlock the continent’s potential, supporting jobs, growth and prosperity in the UK and Africa,” he added.

“HM Trade Commissioners play a critical role in our international economic department and will have more autonomy to do what works best in their region to improve trade with key markets of the future.”

Wade-Smith, who was awarded an OBE for diplomatic service in 2012, said her last two years working in Africa taught her the continent “is bursting not only with opportunities today, but potential for tomorrow”. 

She added: “I will put partnerships at the heart of our business relationships, building on the work we’re already doing to transform our shared entrepreneurial spirit into jobs and growth in the UK and across Africa.”

DIT permanent secretary Antonia Romeo said the appointment, as well as other commissioners already appointed, showed DIT is attracting the best and brightest people to work on the UK’s future trade policy as we prepare to leave the EU. 

She joins Simon Penney (Middle East), Richard Burn (China), Jo Crellin (Latin America), Crispin Simon (South Asia), Judith Slater (Eastern Europe and Central Asia) and Antony Phillipson (North America) as HM trade commissioners, with those for Europe and Asia-Pacific to be confirmed shortly.

“Emma’s appointment is the latest in a series of hires that will boost the UK’s trade and investment relations across the world,” Romeo said. “I look forward to working with Emma and her new colleagues as we build a truly global Britain.”

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