They say that a week is a long time in politics. For the last seven days everyone across the globe has been captured by the news of a new Prime Minister and new government.
It has certainly been a hot topic of conversation here in the Far East where I am on my latest business visit, and I have been following developments very closely. The City looks forward to working very closely with the new government and we will be giving them our thoughts on what financial and professional services firms want to see during the Brexit negotiations.
I am now seven days into this visit, and so far I have visited Taiwan, Japan and now South Korea. There are two key messages that I have been relaying to the governments and business leaders of these respective countries: reassuring them over their investments and business in the UK, and reaffirming how important their trade partnership is to us.
Reassurance was the word I constantly repeated to banks and asset managers in Japan, the President of Taiwan and fintech companies in Korea, among others. I kept making the point that the UK remains very much open for business, outward looking, and wanting to build on our trade links.
I also reminded them that, for the time being, until the end of the negotiations after we trigger Article 50, we are still in the EU, have not lost access to the Single Market and rules and regulations, especially in areas like immigration, have not changed. We have so much going for us, including a great business environment that foreign firms greatly value, a highly skilled workforce, and stable and transparent rule of law. All three countries appreciated the updates I gave them.
As we rethink our relationship to the EU, it has been a great opportunity to cast the net wider and strengthen the commercial links with the Far East, reaffirming how important these markets are for us. Japan is the second biggest investor in the UK. Our trade with Korea is worth £11bn and the UK is Taiwan’s third biggest trading partner in Europe. An increased focus on trade and investment opportunities will help strengthen our economy in the years to come.
No doubt new ministers will be doing these types of business visits in the near future. It has been an opportune time to travel eastwards and quell any concerns our partners may have, and highlight the strengths that the UK can offer. Because in this last point, we have a lot that we can show.