FREE trade deals and the business it is bringing to the region was the top item of discussion as the international trade minister Ranil Jayawardena visited Hampshire.

The minister met the bosses of two successful Hampshire-based small and medium-sized enterprises last week to hear about their exporting journeys and future opportunities to expand into new overseas markets like Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Jayawardena’s first stop was The Grange in Alresford which produce wine, and more recently sparkling wine, before later visiting Summerdown Mint Farm in Basingstoke.

The visit comes after the UK Government introduced a bill this week to help bring the free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand into force later this year.

Mr Jayawardena said: “It is fantastic to see our brilliant British businesses thriving and taking advantage of global trading opportunities, thanks to our ground-breaking new free trade deals, with Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

“Businesses across Hampshire exported over £14bn worth of goods in 2019 alone, highlighting the opportunities we are helping to create for businesses across the county and the whole of the United Kingdom - supporting jobs, boosting wages and growing our economy.”

Zam Baring, managing partner at The Grange, said: “Though our export business is quite embryonic at the moment we are really looking forward to making the most of each and every free trade deal around the world.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Ranil Jayawardena on his visit

Ian Margetts, master of mint at Summerdown, said: “Peppermint was once a great exporting story for the UK. At Summerdown we are excited to re-invigorate this tradition by sharing our award-winning range of chocolates, teas and treats all crafted with our expertly grown star ingredient – Black Mitcham Peppermint.”

Jo Colman, head of sales and marketing, said: “It was great to be able to share both our recent export success, but also our aspirations for where Summerdown can go as a brand with Minister Jayawardena. Knowing that what we are carefully creating from our farm in Hampshire is being enjoyed around the world is one of the best bits of our work!”

Basingstoke Gazette: Ranil Jayawardena on his visit