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Europe must not erect trade barriers with Britain for political reasons because it would be ‘economically dangerous’ for the world, Liam Fox, the Eurosceptic minister for international trade, has said.

Mr Fox warned that trade barriers are going up and restrictions to business is rising as he addressed private equity insiders at a conference in Berlin.

But he said that despite the referendum to leave the European Union, the UK remains ‘open for business’ and ‘the most attractive place to do business’.

Speaking at the SuperReturn conference, Mr Fox said:

It may seem amazing to those of us in this room that free trade as a concept should face so much opposition.

In recent decades globalisation in particular of Asian economies has lifted millions from poverty.

In western economies imports and technological advances driven by global competition has seen living standard higher than ever before and yet we find the rhetoric of protectionism once more into the political and economic debate.

He said political players must be warned not to create barriers where “none currently exist”.

He added:

Let me be very frank. Any new impediments to trade and investment in Europe will not only be politically irresponsible but economically dangerous and not just for Europe but for the wider global economy. We do not act in a political vacuum and there are economic actions that have global implications.

Mr Fox said the UK actually wanted the European Union to be successful in a ‘competitive environment’.

He said:

Our referendum was in no way a desire to see the EU breaking or diminish the UK may have chosen a different paths but we will not reject the values that still bind us to our European neighbours: freedom, equality, democracy, the rule of law.

Read more:

Fox downplays concerns over trade deal impact on UK farmers (Feb 2017)

Fox: Adapting new post-EU trade agreements will be ‘easy’ (Feb 2017)

Liam Fox presses case for free trade in ‘post-geography trading world’ (Sept 2016)

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