In My View - the Clark Kent of Free Trade

Marcus is pictured with Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss

Confidence is hugely important to how our economy works. The money in your savings or pension, the turnover of your business or the chances of a promotion can change overnight depending on confidence and yet it is hard to quantify. I am pleased to say we have many reasons to be confident now and the relief that we are moving forward is palpable. Estate agents report that in the second week of January more potential buyers registered than at any time for the last fifteen years for example.

Investment is going up and economic comparisons with the Eurozone countries are positive. This is good news but I would not seek to tie it too closely to us leaving the EU, rather to note we can now unleash a new energy into our economy and also build on our traditional strengths, and hope we can work with Europe and help them do the same. Similarly I hope any less welcome news is not treated in a triumphant way by those who voted to remain in the EU.  Economies develop and adjust in different ways. What is helping us at the moment though is the very positive direction coming from the Government including earlier this week a speech championing free trade from the Prime Minister.

In his speech in Greenwich he made reference to the UK being the “Clark Kent” of free trade, ready to “leap into the phone booth”. This is very much the approach that we need to be taking but it is not the gung-ho approach which Boris’ light turn of phrase might suggest. There is a huge amount of work going on to make sure that we are in the right place to make the most of the new opportunities ahead of us.

It was brilliant to hear Japan, Canada and Australia among others being named as friends and partners we will reach out to whilst also evolving our relationship with our European neighbours. In my role as Deputy President of the Board of Trade I will be doing all I can to promote our exciting exporting opportunities, not least when it comes to important local exports like helicopters. I’ve had very positive responses from the Government on the support they are giving and will maintain into the future on that front in recent weeks.

It is all very well talking about export opportunities but local opportunity development needs to match and I am working hard on a raft of fronts to make sure the South West gets its share of that. We need to move forward with work on our connectivity and having the conditions to make our area a great place to do business, to innovate and to create even more amazing goods and services. I have been asked to represent Somerset in a new subgroup of South West MPs to help coordinate that agenda so look forward to reporting back in the coming months.

In the meantime I am excited about the shift in mindset emerging about getting more of our high quality products to more countries across the globe.