As we move ever closer to the deadline for the UK and EU to negotiate a Trade Deal, I have been focused on the opportunities for trade and investment that UK and Wales has after the 31st December, writes Craig Williams MP.
It seems that far too many are pessimistic about what we have to offer, preferring to believe we’re a nation that’s dependent on EU handouts than exporting champions. Indeed, while these programmes may have delivered some of the key infrastructure over the years, it’s time private enterprise and entrepreneurs make use of it.
It is no accident that Wales is a site of huge foreign investments, while we all know about Tata Steel in Port Talbot, people often forget that in towns all across Wales, foreign companies express their interest in Wales on a daily basis.
Japanese Companies have chosen to set up shop in rural Mid Wales, rather than the South of England or the industrious North. This is not an outlier either. In many towns across Wales, we see foreign investment pouring into Wales, providing jobs and experience which makes our economy stronger and more resilient.
We have also developed a talent at exporting. While it is easy to point out traditional heavy industry which thrives in South Wales such as IQE (semi-compound conductors) or GE in South Wales or Toyota in Deeside, there are also other industries whose exports are gaining world renown. Many will be unaware of Bad Wolf Studios, contributing to blockbuster titles such as His Dark Materials, and of course Doctor Who. Wales’ creative sector saw huge growth, with Bad Wolf growing by 334% in 10 years. Welsh Language TV and Film has seen huge success with productions by S4C making an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival.
We also see in the heart of Mid Wales, companies like Cellpath growing (even this year), winning accolades and awards for exporting. This great family company also holds close to 60% of NHS (UK) archives from cancer patients’ biopsies. With vision like those of the Webber family, anything is possible.
While Covid has presented a challenge, it is also an opportunity. As Cellpath in Mid Wales has shown a key part of our recovery involves promoting Welsh Goods and ensuring these businesses continue to thrive and grow. Zoom has allowed us to continue to connect as a Welsh global diaspora, building networks and organisations such as Wales in the World Week and Global Wales. This is truly inspirational.
Foreign markets want these goods, in my own patch I only need to think of our premier agricultural products which are making their mark, and important geographic indicators like Welsh Lamb. Wales’ economy has grown into a specialised, high-quality economy and there’s still plenty of room to grow.
Our economy is ready to work alongside the Indo-Pacific – the world’s fastest-growing region. With plans to join the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) and trade negotiations underway with pioneers New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.
Indeed, last week we signed a trade deal with Japan which provides very much-needed good news at a very difficult time, particularly for Wales but, more widely for the whole country.
Trade deal signings come with plenty of fanfare. But, these agreements are a fundamental catalyst for delivering growth and investment of the type that we will need to ensure that our economy recovers from Coronavirus.
The Japan deal is proof that we can strike good trade deals for Britain, despite the doomsayers and the political hangover from the Referendum. Wales and indeed the UK are already out there and we’re winning, we just need the confidence and the network to turn this into jobs, growth and prosperity.
Craig Williams is the Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire.