The UK is on the search for nine trade commissioners to represent the country in key markets as it heads towards leaving the European Union.

The commissioners will head the global operations of the department of international trade (DIT) and will be charged with leading trade policy overseas, promoting UK exports and directing investment both in and out of the country.

The nine geographical areas that the commissioners will cover are Africa, Asia-Pacific, China, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Network (EECAN), Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America and South Asia. Appointments are due to be confirmed during the first half of 2018.

Commenting on the news, international trade secretary Liam Fox says: “This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to represent the UK in key markets around the world. The new trade commissioners will be providing a clear vision and direction to my department’s global operations. That will require providing intelligence on the ground, deciding what tailored action is required in their region, and playing a vital role in our future global trading relationships.”

Research reports increasingly show that the UK is set for a tough transition, as lack of progress with EU negotiations could see the country exit the EU without a trade deal in place.

Last week, trade credit insurer Euler Hermes said the country could see up to £66bn-worth of export losses in 2019. Export losses for goods in 2019, after the UK exits the EU, could be as high as £30bn, while export losses for services could be even higher at £36bn.

Earlier this week, following its annual stress tests, the Bank of England (BoE) advised banks to put aside an extra £6bn in capital to guard against a “disorderly Brexit”.

BoE governor Mark Carney pointed out that while the stress tests showed banks were now resilient to a hard Brexit, other risks, such as problems with the expansion of credit, global debt levels, asset valuations and misconduct costs, needed to be factored in.

“There will be pain associated with that,” Carney said. “This is about minimising that, dampening that.”