THIS Thursday marks one of the major events in the City calendar, the Trade and Industry dinner – an important opportunity to celebrate and fortify the core relationships between the City and the wider economy.
Now more than ever we need to strengthen our partnerships. We need a sense of cohesion if we want to remain a globally competitive force. The City as a financial centre found its origins in our pubs and coffee houses and, through kinship and collaboration, built bridges connecting all corners of the earth.
Such partnerships are integral to prosperity. But if we are to foster growth, we must return to a rational perspective. Throughout my travels, from Yorkshire to the Gulf, from small business to booming industry, I have noted feelings of anxiety and a distinct lack of confidence among business leaders.
There is a great amount of goodwill felt towards the UK from our commercial partners in the Gulf and a well of opportunities to be explored by UK business – but not until there is a change in the mood music set by politicians and the media.
Such negativity makes businesses at home afraid to take risks and restricts our growth prospects, while deterring potential overseas business partners from forming the important ties that we must make if we are to remain a global player.
The City is an integral part of our economic stability and growth, serving as crucial support for the wider economy through its provision of finance and liquidity for business; which in turn creates jobs and growth. Such growth provides reinforcement to our communities, and in turn strengthens wider society.
There has been much talk lately about a “re-balancing” of the economy, but such talk is misguided. The services that the City provides range far beyond the financial services industry and the continued tirade against the City will do nothing to create jobs; we must stand beside the City and recognise its service to the wider economy and the well-being of the nation.
The City remains one of our greatest assets; it attracts international business and investment, and serves as inspiration to financial services centres worldwide. It also holds the key to our future success, through its support of innovation and entrepreneurs.
You only need to turn to Tech City to see how good ideas can grow and thrive into big business. Located in some of our poorest boroughs, the success of these industries will resonate throughout the wider community and provide inspiration for future generations.
As well as touring throughout the Gulf to promote UK business and establish trade links, I have also toured extensively throughout the UK. Only last month I completed a regional tour, starting in my home town of Bradford and finishing in Belfast. Over the course of this tour, I was keen to stress the importance of combining our respective strengths to find opportunities for collaboration and promote British business abroad.
If we are to grow and prosper, and if we wish to uphold our reputation as an international leader, we need to support one another. Our mutual success is dependent upon strong partnerships, not the wiles of scaremongers.
David Wootton is Lord Mayor of the City of London.