Theresa May, the Prime Minister, addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on the 25 January 2018.
Last year, on this platform, I argued that the benefits of free trade were not being felt by all. And I warned that the failure of political and business leaders to address this threatened to undermine popular support for the entire rules based system on which our global security and prosperity depends. But I also argued that we could change this. Not by turning our backs on free trade or the global rules based system – which together have delivered the greatest advances in prosperity we have ever known. But rather by doubling down on them and acting to ensure that the global economy works for everyone.
One year on, I believe there are grounds for optimism. Global growth has continued to strengthen, with the IMF estimating that global output last year grew by 3.7%. The populism of the Far Left and Far Right has not made the progress that some had predicted. And in the UK, we have seen productivity rising, unemployment at its lowest rate for over 40 years and more and more examples of government and business working together to bring new jobs and opportunities to communities across our country.
We have also seen important progress on global trade. The UK has been at the forefront of championing new trade deals, including the EU’s deals with Canada and Japan. The G20 has agreed commitments to tackle overcapacity in steel and the World Trade Organisation has made progress towards launching plurilateral discussions on digital trade.
And as we leave the European Union, the UK will continue to be a global advocate of free trade. Pushing for progress on WTO discussions; seeking to bring new partners to the table – and, of course, after we have left the EU, developing new bilateral deals with countries across the world. But there is much more to be done by the whole international community. And, frankly, too often our rhetoric in support of free trade here in Davos is not matched by our actions. The commitments on steel must be implemented.