When the Department of Trade and Industry was broken up in 1974, three new departments emerged: the Department of Prices and Consumer Protection; the Department of Industry; and the Department of Trade. The latter assumed functions in three primary areas: overseas trade; commerce and industry; shipping and civil aviation.
The Department was responsible for commercial policy and the promotion of UK commercial interests overseas, it negotiated on trade matters, administered UK protective tariffs, and considered all economic policies affecting the UK's international position. The Department promoted British exports through the British Overseas Trade Board (established in January 1972), provided an export information service to industry through eight regional offices, and offered government support for overseas trade fairs. Although it was a separate government department, the Export Credits Guarantee Department was responsible to the Secretary of State for Trade and it provided a credit insurance facility for UK exporters.
The Department was responsible for the legal framework regulating commercial and industrial enterprises, and for legislation governing company affairs and insolvency. Company law, patent, trade mark,copyright and insurance matters also lay within its purview. It was the sponsor department for tourism, the hotel and the travel industry; the newspaper, printing and publishing industries; the film industry and the distributive and service trades.
The Department was also responsible for the UK's shipping and civil aviation industries, conducting international negotiations in these fields as well as overseeing the regulation of marine safety. It had a sponsorship role in relation to the British Airways Board, the British Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority, approving the capital investment of these bodies. Additionally it issued policy guidance to the Civil Aviation Authority and administered its annual grant.
The Department's accountancy, legal, statistical, information, and parliamentary services, were all provided as common services by the appropriate divisions of the Department of Industry.
The Department was dissolved in 1983 when the Department of Trade and the Department of Industry were combined to form a new Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This combined the functions of the previous Department of Industry with the commercial relations and functions of the Department of Trade.