Everywhere I go across the world, everyone I meet tells me that they believe in Britain. They want to buy British products, use British services, learn English. They trust our laws and our financial services, they admire our Armed Forces and they envy our universities.
Actually, that’s not quite true: everywhere I go in the world, except right here in the UK.
There are some who can’t or won’t see the natural advantages we have and the opportunities that exist for us.
I get frustrated when some people purposefully choose to ignore good news such as last week when China opened up their market to UK dairy products.
Britain can and should be confident and the world needs a confident Britain.
A confident Britain can bang the drum for free trade across the world, as more and more countries look to pull up the drawbridge and turn away from the huge benefits that we have seen in poverty alleviation.
A confident Britain can work with African countries to tackle extremism and instability which threatens millions of people across the world, including right here in the UK, as the Prime Minister promised to this week.
A confident Britain with an independent seat at the World Trade Organization can be a leading voice for free trade and prosperity.
A confident Britain is good for the world, and it’s good for us at home too.
Because free trade means we can sell more world-class British goods and services across the globe. That means safeguarding and creating jobs as well generating revenues for the treasury to spend on our vital public services.
That’s why I launched the Export Strategy last month: to turn the UK into an 21st century exporting superpower.
We need to work together to create a more confident Britain that can export to the world.
To do that, we need to support business the length and breadth of the whole UK.
Over 99% of our businesses are small or medium-sized, and 96% are micro-sized, employing fewer than nine people.
That means readers either own one, or work for one. You are lifeblood of our economy – it’s your entrepreneurship, risk-taking and innovation that drives the entire economy. It’s your wealth creation that provides the income we all depend on for our public services, from funding our NHS to paying our brave Armed Forces.
It also means that you might not be exporting – yet – because more than 90% of companies aren’t currently seizing the opportunities of exporting.
That’s where we can help.
Government doesn’t manufacture products and doesn’t provide services for exporting.
But we can help create the right conditions by intervening where only government can. We have created a network of Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioners, to lead the government’s trade and investment promotion and policy in high-growth regions across the world.
And I as International Trade Secretary can step in and speak to foreign ministers about overcoming a trade barrier – as I did this week, when I signed a deal in Beijing to enable the UK to export seed potatoes to China or help a UK company close a deal in an overseas market or seal a partnership with a foreign company.
And to support British businesses – whether they produce farm products, or manufacture playgrounds, or provide legal services – we are also creating a network of Export Champions, people who run businesses that successfully export, to guide their peers and share their expertise.
As I’ve often said before, in the next 10 to 15 years, around 90% of global economic growth is expected to be outside the EU.
I truly believe that Brexit is an opportunity. The positive response and engagement we’ve seen from the EU negotiators to the chequers proposals makes me believe that a good deal is now more likely.
At Chequers the government agreed its proposal for an economic partnership with the EU after the UK leaves on 29 March 2019. It confirmed that the UK will leave the Single Market and the Customs Union and will seize new opportunities from trading with the rest of the world.
That’s why the Prime Minister visited Africa, one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, this week.
It’s why I visited China last week, and am visiting India later in the autumn, to ensure Britain can make the most of their breakneck growth.
Booming countries across the globe are confident in Britain. They’re confident in our crucial role in supporting world prosperity, world security, and world growth.
If they have faith in us, we need to have more faith: because a more confident Britain is a better Britain for the world.