The government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade contains many positive signs for businesses interested or active in the export market, says Derrick Sanyahumbi.
Last week, the government launched its Integrated Review, spanning security, defence, development and foreign policy. The review, Global Britain in a Competitive Age, sets out the vision for the UK’s role in the world to 2030.
There are a number of positive and relevant areas of focus in terms of infrastructure, not least after a period where government focus has been largely absorbed by the issues of Brexit and Covid-19. Clearly, these issues are still with us, but the government is now looking beyond this towards a longer-term future.
We welcome the clear commitment to put “trade at the heart of Global Britain” and the recognition that success in exports also creates jobs and opportunity in all parts of the UK. In addition, the government is signalling a more ‘integrated’ approach, with a promise to “combine hard and soft power, harness the public and private sector and deploy British expertise from inside and outside government in pursuit of national objectives”. This can only be a positive for businesses interested or active in the export market, given the challenges many have encountered historically in trying to access and leverage government to support their efforts.
The review also commits to enhanced support to connect UK businesses of all sizes to international opportunities, including access to finance, regional hubs and specific support for the SME segment. This will be critical to long term success.
The commitment to return the development budget to 0.7% (when fiscal conditions allow) and to invest in UK’s soft power are also significant, as they provide a ‘halo’ effect for the business sector, positioning the UK as a ‘force for good’. The report highlights two key areas – a focus on leading in issues relating to climate change and girls’ education.
The report maps out a number of areas where the government expects the UK to lead – to be a science and technology superpower, a digital hub, a leader in the international progress towards carbon net zero emissions, a champion of free and fair trade. These are bold ambitions, but they provide a direction for the future.
It also maps out the scale and scope of the UK’s international trading ambitions, which touch every part of the globe. A highlight is the accelerated focus on the Indo-Pacific region – building on trading ties with India, Japan, and China and strengthening our focus on the ASEAN region – including Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore.
So, there is much to digest, and many opportunities ahead for export. As ever, however, whilst the document spells out the details around what the vision is, there is still much to do on the detail of how it will be executed. The next level of detail and discussions will need to focus on a number of key questions: -
- How the UK government will deliver a more integrated approach to support international trade, through a ‘government to government to business’ model where government ‘opens doors’ at national level and the private sector provides business and technical expertise.
- How the UK government will support businesses of all sizes to access international opportunities, with specific focus on all parts of the UK and the SME segment.
- How UK plc infrastructure export capabilities and expertise can play a part in this vision, building on the role they already play.
- How region-specific ambitions will be translated into opportunities for increased collaboration and create specific trading opportunities.
British Expertise International (BEI) will continue to focus its efforts on providing the detail and bridging the gap, by providing platforms and events for members and non-members alike to engage directly with representatives of government and international trading partners to identify opportunities and support their ability to compete successfully.
For more details about BEI’s services to exporting firms and current schedule of events, visit their website at www.britishexpertise.org To find out more about BEI, contact Derrick Sanyahumbi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Derrick Sanyahumbi is the chief executive of British Expertise International.