The UK’s landmark scheme to boost trade with developing countries started on Monday 19th June, 2023. The scheme radically simplify trading rules and cut tariffs on products from developing countries.

The UK’s new post-Brexit Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) – entering into force – covers 65 countries (Sierra Leone included) that are home to over 3.3 billion people, and over half are in Africa. It removes or reduces tariffs and simplifies trading rules so that more products qualify for the scheme, making it more generous than the EU scheme the UK was previously a member of.

It is to benefit developing countries looking to diversify and increase exports, driving their prosperity and reducing their need for aid.

Over time, were developing countries to increase trade with the UK under the scheme, businesses could save millions more on import costs.

Minister for International Trade Nigel Huddleston launched the scheme while on a visit to Ethiopia’s largest industrial business park, Bole Lemi.

Under the new scheme, Sierra Leone and 46 other countries will be able to produce goods using components from many more countries, growing their opportunities to trade with the UK.

Speaking at the park, Minister Huddleston said: “This scheme is a brilliant example of the UK taking advantage of its status as an independent trading nation and I am excited to see it implemented today.”

According to him, the scheme will create opportunities for businesses around the world, support livelihoods, create jobs and diversify local and international supply chains. “It will also benefit UK businesses and consumers by lowering import costs on a whole range of products.” says Huddleston.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister for Africa, Andrew Mitchell, said, “The UK’s new trading scheme for 65 developing countries, DCTS, shows how we can use trade to deliver development. It will benefit traders around the world, including small and women-owned businesses which we are supporting through UK Trade Partnership programme.”

The DCTS covers 37 countries in Africa, 26 in Asia/Oceania/Middle East and 2 in the Americas, representing varied and exciting trade opportunities around the world.

The scheme was announced last year, and legislation has since been finalised to bring it into force.

The UK imported an average of £22.8 billion worth of goods from DCTS countries over the last three years.

When combined with the UK’s network of 8 Economic Partnership Agreements, the DCTS means over 90 developing countries now benefit from duty-free or nearly duty-free trade.