As the UK’s principal international ambassador for our country’s professional and financial services industry, I will spend approximately 100 days abroad, in high-growth countries this year.
And, in my time overseas, I’ve noticed a problem.
I have visited Australia, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Indonesia, and I can say with confidence that the phrase “Made in the UK” is held in very high esteem. It is seen as a hallmark for quality.
The problem is that we are not fully capitalising on this reputation.
The unfortunate truth is that while we are producing exceptionally high-quality products and services, we need to work harder at bringing them to the world’s markets.
We need to see more companies looking out at the world and seeking opportunities to sell their wares abroad and partner with foreign companies – be it in cyber security, asset management, infrastructure finance, fintech, or legal services.
One of the opportunities of exiting the EU is that we will be able to forge an independent trading relationship with the rest of the world, especially the many countries which are growing rapidly.
We in the City of London are looking at ways of driving forward an export-focused business culture, which is why I was pleased to be in Preston earlier this year with the secretary of state for international trade, Liam Fox, when he launched the National Trade Academy Programme.
This exciting programme will help more businesses lift their eyes up to international opportunities and export their goods and services right across the world.
This will in turn drive growth and encourage people from all groups of society – from students, to business owners, to academics – to develop international trade and investment-related skills to foster the export and trade culture that Global Britain will need once we leave the EU. Educating people about the opportunity is what it is all about.
As part of the push to foster a greater export culture, later this summer the City of London Corporation, in partnership with the Department for International Trade, will be running an International Trade Summer School.
This residential summer school – the first of its kind – will bring together top students from across the UK to London, where they will learn about international trade and export strategies from successful business leaders, senior government officials, as well as noted trade experts.
We want to encourage these young students, as they prepare to enter the world of work, to speak about opportunities for trade and export in their future workplaces. Driving cultural change starts at the grass-roots level, and I believe this will help drive forward the UK’s ambitions of being a globally focused trading nation.
Educating the next generation of British exporters is of crucial importance for British success in the long run, and the National Trade Academy Programme will help secure jobs, drive growth and prosperity, and further develop our status as a global trading nation.