Championing Britain through commercial and economic diplomacy

Foreign Secretary William Hague tells British diplomats they must intensify work to champion the UK as a destination for foreign investment.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Rt Hon William Hague

Today, more than at any moment in modern history, British diplomacy must play a central role in supporting jobs and growth in our economy. We need commercial diplomacy and economic expertise to run through the bloodstream of the Foreign Office, and it really is starting to do so. Western economies are facing significant economic and fiscal challenges. There is simply no option to generate growth through increased government expenditure.

That means that as well as using diplomacy to tackle threats in the world and to advance human rights and freedom, all the things the Foreign Office does so well, we also need to build up our influence where it counts, in new trading hubs and high-growth economies of the 21st century as well as our vitally important markets in Europe and the United States. You are on the front line helping us to do this, making the contacts, speaking to business leaders and building the influence that will enable British companies to remain competitive in a global market. We need your local knowledge and understanding to spot both opportunities and barriers to trade.

These were important changes to make and I want to thank you personally for responding so readily and energetically in making them happen, which is something that I can see and feel wherever I go. British business also appreciates it, as the results of a recent survey clearly show. But that survey also highlighted that we must sustain this effort over the long-term.

But we need to build on these successes, increase our ambition, and reach even further; because if we don’t then others will in our place.

But it is you who is making clear that Britain is open for business and has an abundance to offer. I have been immensely impressed by your efforts so far. The skills that you display in getting under the skins of your local cultures, building relationships with business, lobbying officials, and reporting economic and political developments, are the skills that will allow us to give British business the competitive edge that it needs. Whether it be championing the UK’s contribution to the green economy, or influencing trade negotiations in Brussels, it is you, our network, which is connecting opportunities abroad to jobs at home. I want you to know that the work you are doing is vitally important. It is important to us in the FCO. It is important to the Prime Minister. And it is important to the whole country. So, I will champion you and the work you do and I want you to champion Britain.

Published 11 December 2012