Oral statement to Parliament
G20 Summit: PM Commons statement – 7 September 2016
Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement in Parliament on the recent G20 Summit in China and the leading role the UK plays in the world.
With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the G20 Summit in China. But before I turn to the G20, I would like to say something about the process of Brexit.
On 23 June the British people were asked to vote on whether we should stay in the EU or leave. The majority decided to leave. Our task now is to deliver the will of the British people and negotiate the best possible deal for our country.
And I know many people are keen to see rapid progress and to understand what post-Brexit Britain will look like. We are getting on with that vital work. But we must also think through the issues in a sober and considered way. And as I have said this is about getting the kind of deal that is ambitious and bold for Britain. It is not about the Norway model or the Swiss model or any other country’s model – it is about developing our own British model.
So we will not take decisions until we are ready. We will not reveal our hand prematurely and we will not provide a running commentary on every twist and turn of the negotiation. And I say that because that is not the best way to conduct a strong and mature negotiation that will deliver the best deal for the people of this country. And as the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union told the House on Monday, what we will do is maximise and seize the opportunities that Brexit presents. And that is the approach I took to the G20 Summit.
This was the first time that the world’s leading economies have come together since the UK’s decision to leave the EU – and it demonstrated the leading role we continue to play in the world as a bold, ambitious and outward-looking nation.
Building on our strength as a great trading nation, we were clear that we had to resist a retreat to protectionism and we had conversations about how we could explore new bilateral trading arrangements with key partners around the world.
We initiated important discussions on responding to rising anti-globalisation sentiment and ensuring that the world’s economies work for everyone. And we continued to play our part in working with our allies to confront the global challenges of terrorism and migration.
So let me take each in turn.
Mr Speaker, trading with partners all around the globe has been the foundation of our prosperity in the past – and it will underpin our prosperity in the future.
So under my leadership, as we leave the EU, Britain will seek to become the global leader in free trade. At this summit, we secured widespread agreement across the G20 to resist a retreat to protectionism, including a specific agreement to extend the rollback of protectionist measures until at least the end of 2018.
The G20 also committed to ratify by the end of this year the WTO agreement to reduce the costs and burdens of moving goods across borders. And it agreed to do more to encourage firms of all sizes, in particular SMEs and female-led firms, to take full advantage of global supply chains.
Britain also continued to press for an ambitious EU trade agenda, including implementing the EU-Canada deal and forging agreements with Japan and America. And we will continue to make these arguments for as long as we are members of the EU.
But as we leave the EU, we will also forge our own new trade deals. And I am pleased to say that just as the UK is keen to seize the opportunities that leaving the EU presents, so too are many of our international partners, who recognise the attractiveness of doing business with the UK.
The leaders from India, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore said that they would welcome talks on removing the barriers to trade between our countries. The Australian trade minister visited the UK yesterday to take part in exploratory discussions on the shape of a UK-Australia trade deal. And in our bilateral at the end of the summit, President Xi also made clear that China would welcome discussions on a bilateral trade arrangement with the UK.
Mr Speaker, as we do more to advance free trade around the world, so we must also do more to ensure that working people really benefit from the opportunities it creates.
Economy that works for everyone
Across the world today, many feel these opportunities do not seem to come to them. They feel a lack of control over their lives. They have a job but no job security; they have a home but worry about paying the mortgage. They are just about managing but life is hard. And it is not enough for governments to take a hands-off approach.
So at this summit I argued that we need to deliver an economy that works for everyone – with bold action at home and co-operation abroad. That is why, in Britain, we are developing a proper industrial strategy to improve productivity in every part of the country, so more people can share in our national prosperity through higher real wages and greater opportunities for young people.
And to restore greater fairness, we will be consulting on new measures to tackle corporate irresponsibility. These will include cracking down on excessive corporate pay, poor corporate governance, short-termism and aggressive tax avoidance – and giving employees and customers representation on company boards.
At the G20, this mission of ensuring the economy works for everyone was echoed by other leaders and this is an agenda that Britain will continue to lead in the months and years ahead.
Together, we agreed to continue efforts to fight corruption – building on the London summit – and do more to stop aggressive tax avoidance, including stopping companies avoiding tax by shifting profits from one jurisdiction to another.
We also agreed to work together to address the causes of excess global production in heavy industries, including in the steel market. And we will establish a new forum to discuss issues such as subsidies that contribute to market distortions.
Mr Speaker, all of these steps are important if we are to retain support for free trade and the open economies which are the bedrock of global growth.
Terrorism and migration
Turning to global security, Britain remains at the heart of the fight against Daesh and at this summit we discussed the need for robust plans to manage the threat of foreign fighters dispersing from Syria, Iraq and Libya.
We called for the proper enforcement of the UN sanctions regime to limit the financing of all terrorist organisations – and for more action to improve standards in aviation security, including through a UN Security Council Resolution which the UK has been pursuing and which we hope will be adopted later this month.
We also agreed the need to confront the ideology that underpins this terrorism. That means addressing both violent and non-violent extremism – and working across borders to tackle radicalisation online.
Turning to the migration crisis, Britain will continue to meet our promises to the poorest in the world, including through humanitarian efforts to support refugees, and we will make further commitments at President Obama’s summit in New York later this month.
But at the G20, I also argued that we cannot shy away from dealing with illegal migration, and I will be returning to this at the UN General Assembly. We need to improve the way we distinguish between refugees and economic migrants. This will enable our economies to benefit from controlled economic migration, and in doing so we will be able to get more help to refugees who need it, and retain popular support for doing so.
This doesn’t just protect our own people. By reducing the scope for the mass population movements we are seeing today – and at the same time investing to address the underlying drivers of mass migration at source – we can achieve better outcomes for the migrants themselves.
As part of this new approach we also need a much more concerted effort to address modern slavery. This sickening trade, often using the same criminal networks that facilitate illegal migration, is an affront to our humanity and I want Britain leading a global effort to stamp it out.
Mr Speaker, when the British people voted to leave the European Union, they did not vote to leave Europe, to turn inwards or to walk away from the G20 or any of our international partners around the world. That has never been the British way. We have always understood that our success as a sovereign nation is inextricably bound up in our trade and our co-operation with others.
By building on existing partnerships, forging new relationships and shaping an ambitious global role, we will make a success of Brexit – for Britain and for all our partners – and we will continue to strengthen the prosperity and security of all our citizens for generations to come.
And I commend this Statement to the House.