In a question and answer session with Welsh business leaders, CBI President John Allan will highlight Brexit and renationalisation as two threats to the essential partnership between business and government that is so critical for boosting national and local economies.
Held at the Park Inn, Cardiff, John Allan will remind a packed audience that continued uncertainty is already having a negative effect on investment, putting jobs and living standards at risk, particularly in places like Wales that already struggle with low productivity.
Mr Allan will also highlight the importance of getting the partnership between business and government right and stress how vital that cooperation will be to tackling longer-term challenges, such as climate change. He’ll further discuss the importance of productivity enhancing measures like upgrading infrastructure and building a workforce that’s fit for the future – with the M4 and upskilling and retraining top of businesses’ wish list.
On Brexit, John Allan, CBI President, said:
“At last year’s Wales Annual Lunch we called for an end to the Brexit ‘logjam.’ Twelve months later and we’re in much the same place but at an ever-growing cost. £800 billion pounds of financial capital has moved out of the UK and in 2018 we saw four successive quarters of falling investment - the longest such period since the financial crash.
“UK stockpiling is at a rate unseen since records began. The closure, cancellation or relocation of great businesses and their production lines continues. And all the while our international competitors are pulling ahead. For a place like Wales, where manufacturing remains the lifeblood of the economy, that’s a real concern.
“Parliament must seize this new opportunity to address uncertainty. While it’s not for business leaders to tell politicians when to trigger democratic events, be in no doubt that political failure today means economic failure tomorrow. We desperately need to find a way through.”
On the importance of boosting productivity, John said:
“There is a path away from Brexit paralysis and ideological positioning. A way for us to harness the joint potential of government and business, but it requires change on both sides. We must acknowledge new electoral realities while providing long-term certainty for our big national projects on infrastructure, skills and climate change.
“We need a fresh approach in business too, acknowledging the problems politicians are trying to solve and helping provide answers. Last week we published a report which shows that if businesses improve how they engage their people we could give the economy a productivity boost worth over £100 billion pounds.
“For a place like Wales, which suffered too long from low productivity, that could be a massive shot in the arm. With an ambitious industrial strategy for Wales, with government and business pulling in the same direction, just think what we could achieve. A commitment to expanding the M4, something business has long called for, would be a great way to show that kind of joined-up thinking.”