Not long after I was elected, I was invited to visit food import business, Anzco, at their Harold Wood office to discuss Brexit and trade policy. Anzco exports high quality New Zealand beef and lamb into the UK and employs over 3000 staff worldwide.
The company's Harold Wood office has close links to the London Gateway port, and I visited the port with Anzco General Manager, Heath Milne, to see their state-of-the-art facilities in August.
Since then I have joined the House of Commons' International Trade Select Committee, which scrutinises the work of the Department for International Trade, as part of my goal to ensure Britain thrives after we leave the European Union. Our Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into trade with the Commonwealth, with a particular focus on new trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand.
As Hornchurch & Upminster's new MP, I see one of my goals as bringing the constituency and Westminster closer together. In this way, I invited Anzco to the Committee's discussion session this morning between Australian and New Zealand businesses and Trade Committee Members to see how we can develop our trading relationship with these two very close Commonwealth allies after Brexit.
It was an extremely interesting and useful discussion which made clear that there is much to learn from Australia and New Zealand in the way in which they made their businesses more competitive and efficient after Britain joined the EU in the 1970s. There are plenty of opportunities to work together with these nations in benefiting from growth in Asian markets, and a huge array of products that we could import more cheaply to give UK consumers more choice. On my table were representatives from Tate & Lyle, Fonterra, the NZ wine industry, the British Retail Consortium and the Queensland government.