Speech delivered by Lord Price CVO, Minister of State at the Department for International Trade, in New York on 26 July 2016.
I am delighted to be in the United States.
My meetings started yesterday in Washington, including with Michael Froman – the US Trade Representative - to talk about the possible shape of UK/US trade deals.
I am also pleased to be in New York. The purpose of my visit here is to reassure investors. I started with an appearance on Bloomberg GO this morning.
And now I am here in this iconic building to speak to you.
Thank you Thomson Reuters for hosting us today.
Paul Reuter, who founded Reuters News Agency was actually quite the pioneer in his day. He famously used carrier pigeons to fly stock prices between Aachen and Brussels in the 1840s. As telegraph cables grew in popularity, sadly, but rather inevitably, the pigeons faced redundancy.
However, there is a serious point here. The need to adapt to changing external circumstances is a theme I will return to later in this speech.
Essential as well as special
But first I’d like to touch on the relationship between the UK and America.
Our ties have been forged over hundreds years of shared struggle and sacrifice but also of huge economic and cultural progress.
We do business together – as you can see from the audience here today; we collaborate in music, art, and film – think Alfred Hitchcock and James Stewart; our diplomatic and intelligence teams work hand in glove to safeguard our mutual interests; and we both believe in democracy, rule of law and free trade.
Churchill was absolutely right when – in 1946, at the appropriately named Westminster College, Missouri - he proclaimed our special relationship to the world. And it is still as relevant now as it was 70 years ago.
President Obama, on his most recent trip to the UK, reiterated that Britain ‘remains a friend and ally to the United States like no other.’
However, what I want to tell you all today is that, in my eyes, the relationship is now even more ‘essential’ as well as ‘special’.
Let me explain why.
It is essential that we build on our already strong economic ties.
And the UK’s new Secretary of State for International Trade – Liam Fox – and I are both here in the United States to ensure we work with our American counterparts to lay the groundwork for the future.
Nearly USD 1trillion worth of mutual investment makes us each other’s largest investor, and each other’s largest foreign job creator.
We are the single most popular destination for US overseas investment. And UK companies here in the US support around 1 million American jobs.
The US is the UK’s largest single trading partner and is the destination for 20% of all UK exports.
What I am particularly proud of is the success of our gin, wine and beer exports. It seems the Americans, like us Brits, like nothing more than kicking back with few gin and tonics or a pint of Yorkshire ale.
Exports of our favourite beverages to the US reached a record £361 million last year, as Americans guzzled down more than 220 million pints of ale, including from Yorkshire’s Ilkley Brewery and Aberdeenshire’s Brew Dog.
Business is a force for good
This is important because I believe there is an inextricable link between the success of people in this room and the strength of our society and economy.
When UK businesses export more and more investment flows to the UK, jobs are created and livelihoods are transformed.
In fact it is business that collects the majority of taxes for the government that go onto fund our schools, hospitals and national defence.
I truly believe that business is a force for good. That is the main reason why I joined government – to help create the conditions so businesses can flourish.
And government is doing some exciting things to show that when it comes to trade and investment – the UK is open for business.
Let’s take investment first.
I want to thank the investors in the room here today for your continued support of UK economy. Since 2010, investment such as yours has created over 300,000 jobs in the UK.
We have a strong rule of law, which is essential for businesses that want stability to plan for the future.
Our financial services sector has seen £100 billion worth of investment poured in since 2007.
Our corporate tax rates are among the lowest in the G20 and are set to get even lower. And the relaxing of our previous fiscal rules will mean we can invest even more to create a competitive business environment.
And hailing from the north myself, I am a big champion of the potential and talent of our great northern cities. People rightly see London as a financial and cultural powerhouse – but when we say the UK is open for business, we’re talking about all of it.
On exports, government is transforming the way we are helping UK companies seize the world of opportunity out there.
Our targets are ambitious. But the thing about bold goals is that they help focus the mind and challenge the way you’ve always done things. This is important because the UK is currently the sixth biggest exporter in the world – behind countries like China, the US and Germany.
We want to change this.
For the really high value export campaigns we have, for the first time, prioritised nearly 200 around the world. These could be worth up to £70 billion a year by 2020.
We will bring together the whole of government, industry and our extensive overseas network to help UK businesses win these deals.
For example, there are around 14 big ticket export campaigns forecast here in America we will focus on – including in defence, aerospace and life sciences.
We are also aiming to get 100,000 additional businesses exporting by 2020. To help us achieve this we are adopting a digital first approach.
This will build on our fantastic existing Exporting is GREAT campaign, which shows UK companies thousands of live export opportunities for which they can apply through a dedicated website.
For example, right now, New York is looking for British expertise to develop a city wide advertising programme; California wants our financial advisory services, and in Georgia, a company needs help to reduce its carbon footprint.
My message to all UK companies is that the demand really is out there …. and you’re only a click of a mouse away.
And the great news is that in November, we are taking this digital offer to the next level – creating a one stop shop for exporters in the UK.
Last week I met with 5 of the UK’s biggest banks to launch a unique UK Directory of Exporters. Potential customers and buyers from around the world will be able to search for UK companies which are ready to supply the products, services and skills they need. It is a world first.
Companies can register on this directory now via Exporting is GREAT website.
We are also partnering up with the world’s biggest e-market places so you can sell your products to customers around the world easily and our 50 campaign partners stand ready to help you with everything from logistics to insurance.
My point here is that strengthening trade and investment between our two countries is vital for both our economies. That is why our relationship is essential.
You will have heard of the British people’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) and the subsequent change in government. This is another example of why our relationship is essential. Again, let me explain why.
I am conscious that there are people in this room who will be affected in some way by a UK exit, so I want to be as clear as possible.
Nothing changes immediately. For now, we are still full members of the EU, so goods and services will flow as freely as before.
Our economy has strong foundations. Over the past 6 years, we’ve worked hard to make Britain one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business. And we have no intention of seeing that change
The imperative now is to ensure we have a collective and unified view of the Britain we want in the future.
Firstly, we will need to negotiate a new deal with the EU. I want us to maintain as close a relationship as possible on trade with our European partners. We will also look to secure free trade agreements (FTAs) with countries around the world.
We have and will continue to engage UK businesses and American investors to help draw up the blueprints for what the UK’s future relationship with the EU and the rest of the world looks like.
I am eager to hear your views and work together so we can get the best possible deals for the UK and our international partners.
Above all, we need to see this as an exciting opportunity. In essence, we are starting from a blank piece of paper when it comes to trade deals. Freed from Brussels’ more bureaucratic tendencies we will be able to tackle any excessive red tape that can choke small businesses.
We will also be able to make our tax system even more competitive, helping local businesses to grow and attracting investment from overseas.
Awaiting us is an exciting prospect of continued trading relations with Europe, enhancing ties with our partners East and West, and using our geographical position to make the UK a super connected trading hub.
And it is by drawing on our essential relationship that the UK and the United States will lead the way in helping secure a more stable and prosperous world – through trade.
Department for International Trade
And I am delighted that our vision is already starting to take shape.
Governments are not usually known for being fast movers, but in the space of 4 weeks, the UK’s government structure has pivoted to ensure that trade is given the prominence it deserves – right at the heart of government.
The new department for International Trade will coordinate and implement trade and investment policy as well as negotiating free trade and market access deals around the world.
We will provide operational support for exports and facilitate inward and outward investment.
By bringing together trade promotion with policy, we will be able to better champion British business around the world.
And I will work closely with my cabinet colleagues in the Foreign Office and in the new Department for Exiting the EU, to ensure we take a whole of government approach in maintaining Britain’s status as a great trading nation.
Before I close, I want to leave you with this thought.
The UK has a strong economy: we remain a fantastic place to invest, and have plenty of innovative, successful businesses all of whom can draw on the support of the entire British government to help them succeed.
As we breakout on our own - forging a future that is centred on open trade - it is essential that we draw upon the support of our closest partner in the United States of America.
We have an opportunity here to forge even deeper ties between our 2 great nations and to do more business between ourselves and the rest of the world.
This opportunity to collaborate is similar to the one Churchill referred to in his 1946 Missouri speech.
He said: ‘Opportunity is here now, clear and shining for both our countries. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the after-time.’
That is why our relationship is not just special, but essential.