British Prime Minister Theresa May has sought to convince business leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum that the country remains committed to free trade and globalization.

May said Thursday that the country's decision last year to leave the European Union was not a rejection of "our friends in Europe," or an attempt to cease cooperation.

She said it was a vote to "take control and take decisions for ourselves" and to become "even more global and internationalist in action and spirit as well."

Britain, she added, is looking to strike trade deals with "old friends" and "new allies."

She also said governments have to take account of those left behind by globalization and urged businesses to play by the same rules as everyone else, especially on paying taxes.