New York mayor Bill de Blasio meets with shadow London minister Sadiq Khan before addressing the Labour conference in Manchester.
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Exclusive: Bill de Blasio and Sadiq Khan meet to discuss fight against inequality

New York mayor met the shadow London minister for 45 minutes before he addressed the Labour conference. 

Bill de Blasio, New York's first Democratic mayor since 1993, was the star turn on the final day of the Labour conference, delivering a well-received speech on the global fight against inequality.

Before addressing the conference, I can reveal that de Blasio met for 45 minutes with shadow London minister and shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan. A source told me that the pair discussed plans to tackle rising inequality in London and New York and how to make politics more relevant to people's lives. De Blasio invited Khan, who is often spoken of as a potential future London mayor, to visit him and see the progress his administration has made. 

Khan has long described inequality as the biggest challenge facing London, making it one of the central issues of Labour's election campaign in the capital last May (where it enjoyed its best results since 1998). In a speech at the GMB conference in June, he said: "Growing inequality is a global problem seen across the world. And the forces of conservatism will fight tooth and nail to protect their vested interests. We will need everyone who believes that inequality is a problem working alongside us."

But while Khan has publicly expressed interest in becoming de Blasio's equivalent in London ("If the ball came loose at the edge of the box and I thought I had the best chance of scoring a goal I'd probably shoot," he has said), he is not planning to follow David Lammy in declaring his candidacy before the general election. A source recently told me: "Sadiq is working his socks off to get Ed Miliband elected Prime Minister. He will continue to focus all his effort on winning 12 extra seats in London as shadow London minister and articulating Labour's radical alternative to the government's prison crisis as shadow justice secretary."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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A global marketplace: the internet represents exporting’s biggest opportunity

The advent of the internet age has made the whole world a single marketplace. Selling goods online through digital means offers British businesses huge opportunities for international growth. The UK was one of the earliest adopters of online retail platforms, and UK online sales revenues are growing at around 20 per cent each year, not just driving wider economic growth, but promoting the British brand to an enthusiastic audience.

Global e-commerce turnover grew at a similar rate in 2014-15 to over $2.2trln. The Asia-Pacific region, for example, is embracing e-marketplaces with 28 per cent growth in 2015 to over $1trln of sales. This demonstrates the massive opportunities for UK exporters to sell their goods more easily to the world’s largest consumer markets. My department, the Department for International Trade, is committed to being a leader in promoting these opportunities. We are supporting UK businesses in identifying these markets, and are providing access to services and support to exploit this dramatic growth in digital commerce.

With the UK leading innovation, it is one of the responsibilities of government to demonstrate just what can be done. My department is investing more in digital services to reach and support many more businesses, and last November we launched our new digital trade hub: www.great.gov.uk. Working with partners such as Lloyds Banking Group, the new site will make it easier for UK businesses to access overseas business opportunities and to take those first steps to exporting.

The ‘Selling Online Overseas Tool’ within the hub was launched in collaboration with 37 e-marketplaces including Amazon and Rakuten, who collectively represent over 2bn online consumers across the globe. The first government service of its kind, the tool allows UK exporters to apply to some of the world’s leading overseas e-marketplaces in order to sell their products to customers they otherwise would not have reached. Companies can also access thousands of pounds’ worth of discounts, including waived commission and special marketing packages, created exclusively for Department for International Trade clients and the e-exporting programme team plans to deliver additional online promotions with some of the world’s leading e-marketplaces across priority markets.

We are also working with over 50 private sector partners to promote our Exporting is GREAT campaign, and to support the development and launch of our digital trade platform. The government’s Exporting is GREAT campaign is targeting potential partners across the world as our export trade hub launches in key international markets to open direct export opportunities for UK businesses. Overseas buyers will now be able to access our new ‘Find a Supplier’ service on the website which will match them with exporters across the UK who have created profiles and will be able to meet their needs.

With Lloyds in particular we are pleased that our partnership last year helped over 6,000 UK businesses to start trading overseas, and are proud of our association with the International Trade Portal. Digital marketplaces have revolutionised retail in the UK, and are now connecting consumers across the world. UK businesses need to seize this opportunity to offer their products to potentially billions of buyers and we, along with partners like Lloyds, will do all we can to help them do just that.

Taken from the New Statesman roundtable supplement Going Digital, Going Global: How digital skills can help any business trade internationally

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