Members of the House of Lords, including a former director of the London School of Economics and a prime ministerial trade envoy, debated the role of international trade in increasing employment and economic growth on Thursday 23 January.
Members agreed that international trade is central to promoting UK jobs and economic recovery - and helps lift developing countries out of poverty. They discussed ways to encourage UK exports from large and SME businesses, including nurturing relationships in countries with emerging markets.
The role of the UK in the world was discussed. The importance of London as a leading trading city, the use of English as the international language of commerce and the rule of law and transparency in the UK were raised as important factors in making the UK a good trading partner.
Free trade and trade agreements were highlighted as central to promoting international trade. The role of the EU as the UK's most important trading area was discussed and some members raised concern about uncertainty regarding the UK's future membership and the impact this could have on trade, in particular UK inclusion in a proposed Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA).
Lord Livingstone of Parkhead (Conservative), minister at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, responded on behalf of the government saying that it was committed to growing exports and championing free trade.