Opening the second day of the CBI's first International Trade Conference, CBI President, Lord Karan Bilimoria, spoke of the opportunity for the UK to draw on its entrepreneurial strengths to be an exporting powerhouse in 2021.
Full transcript below.
Welcome everyone to day two of the CBI’s virtual International Trade Conference.
Yesterday, we heard from Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss her Permanent Secretary, Antonia Romeo, and a host of senior leaders, policy experts, and trade representatives on the state of global trade and investment and opportunities open to the UK as it charts – for the first time in over 40 years – its own independent course on trade.
We have another unrivalled line-up of panels and discussion sessions for you today. Starting with a deep dive on what I think is one of the most important themes of our conference that is leveraging the power of the UK’s trade agenda to support business growth and opportunity for all.
A PATH TO RECOVERY
In the wake of the pandemic, we know just how incredibly tough global economic conditions are right now. The WTO’s latest figures project a 9.2% drop in goods trade this year.
This marks a historically sharp decline. And limiting it is also dependent on continued, concerted global efforts from both government and business to keep the world open and trading.
LOOKING OUTWARD IN 2021
So, as the hosts of COP26 with Italy and president of the G7, supported by the CBI chairing the B7 group, the UK has both a huge responsibility and opportunity on the global stage next year.
Firstly, to champion and use open, competitive free trade — in collaboration with our allies and friends — to transform people’s lives and our future for the better.
Securing the international agreement and action urgently needed to build a global recovery, drive the world’s shift to a net-zero future and promote more inclusive global growth.
And then, secondly, to spotlight and sharpen the UK’s own competitive global strengths.
THE UK’S STRENGTHS
It’s fundamental to enabling more UK firms of all sizes and sectors to grow through trade. And, in turn, helping these businesses fully realise the gains that competing globally can bring. Driving productivity and innovation, as well as boosting skills. And the UK has a strong base from which to build.
THE UK’S STORY
Our country remains one of the best places in the world to do business. Ranked in the World Bank’s global top ten for ‘Ease of doing business’ and second only to the U.S. in the G7 economies.
The UK is home to three of the world’s top 10 universities.
And our universities are one of our most important export earners, with international students alone contributing £26 billion directly and indirectly to the UK economy.
Working with business and government, this sector also contributes a huge amount to the UK’s world-beating tech and innovation hubs. Such as Silicon Fen in Cambridge, the South West’s powerhouse aerospace cluster, and the West Midland’s leading expertise in mobility innovation. All built around global-leading companies, vibrant supply chains and trailblazing research and development.
And, as one of the highest recipients of inward investment in the world, the UK needs to continue to attract inward investment into R&D and innovation.
ENTERPRISE AND CREATIVITY
To think that less than four decades ago entrepreneurship was looked down upon in this country. Today, we are one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world and a great place to set up a business and have a global headquarters. And it’s that creativity, enterprise and innovation, that’s helped the UK produce more $1 billion dollar unicorns than any other European country.
And, throughout my term as CBI President, I’m committed to establishing the UK as a trading superpower - promoting our country as a world-beating destination for entrepreneurs to establish and build a company and helping more UK firms seize the opportunities exporting brings.
Central of course to our success will be the UK securing a deal with the EU – as our largest trading partner.
NO LIMIT TO OUR AMBITIONS
Across the UK’s trade agenda, there should be no limit to our ambition to create jobs, secure a green recovery and build a prosperous economy. I look forward to discussing these issues with our expert panel. And most importantly, working with you over the coming year to achieve this vision.