DIT seeks trade watchdog chair after former diplomat steps down from role

Re-advertised role pared down from 100 days a year to 50 in second cycle

Photo: DIT

The Department for International Trade is seeking a chair to lead its post-Brexit trade watchdog, following the resignation of former chair designate Sir David Wright.

Wright, the UK’s former ambassador to Japan and Korea, was appointed as chair of the UK Trade Remedies Authority in October but stepped down at the end of March with immediate effect for personal reasons.

He had been in post at the arm's-length body, which is still in shadow form, for less than two months, having taken up the position on 1 February.


DIT revealed last week that it had signed a contract worth £20,000 with the executive search firm Capita Resourcing Ltd to help with the appointment. Preliminary interviews are set to take place this week, ahead of shortlisting next week.

In an application pack for the job published last month, DIT said the chair designate, who will become permanent chair once legislation has been passed to legally establish the TRA, would earn £32,000 for 50 days’ work in their first year, going down to £29,000 for 45 days’ work in each of the second and third years.

The time requirement has dropped considerably since the role was last advertised in summer 2018, when DIT said it was seeking a chair for two to three days a week – a minimum of 110 days a year – for the then £63,400-a-year role.

A job advert posted last month said: "This is an exciting and high-profile role responsible for delivering the government’s commitment to ensuring the TRA is able to investigate and recommend trade remedies measures when the UK leaves the EU.

"The chair will lead on a number of critical areas including setting the TRA’s strategic vision and developing its corporate governance structures. The chair will also be responsible for overseeing the TRA’s relationship with the secretary of state for international trade and DIT."

They will also appoint executive members to the TRA board, act as the public face of the agency alongside the chief executive, and develop and maintain relationships with the devolved administrations, the public and other organisations.

Wright’s resignation, which trade secretary Liam Fox announced in a letter to parliament’s International Trade Select Committee, came a few weeks after the committee raised concerns that the TRA may not have all the staff it needed in place for the then-Brexit deadline of 29 March.

Committee chair Angus MacNeil wrote to Fox in February saying the committee had “significant concerns… around the establishment and future operational effectiveness of the TRA”.

The committee was concerned that MPs had been told only a third of staff already in place had completed their training, while others were still being recruited, MacNeil said at the time.

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