Friday, 2 June 2017

Brexit: and doing business beyond the EU

One motive for voting Brexit was a desire to 'make Britain great again':
Futures Forum: Brexit: and providing good quality jobs
BBC Radio 4 - The Briefing Room, Why Did People Vote Leave?

Another was a reaction against globalisation:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and globalization
Futures Forum: Brexit: and looking beyond revolt: "If we’ve learned one thing in the last week, it is that communities – not Westminster - must agree what works for them."

An alternative to the EU is of course the Commonwealth:

PETER OBORNE: Brexit offers us the chance to reunite with our true friends 

4 March 2017

Over the past four decades, our governments have shamefully ignored the benefits of the Commonwealth. Successive Prime Ministers from Edward Heath onwards have been blind to its economic, cultural and social value.

It is no coincidence that those decades of disgraceful neglect have coincided with Britain’s membership of the EU.

Part of the reason for this lies with the ridiculous sense of self-loathing felt by British liberals on account of our former Empire. Crippled by a post-imperial cringe, they have idiotically preferred the sclerotic, statist conformity of a German-dominated Europe to the exciting potential of the Commonwealth that shares many of our beliefs.

Brexit offers us the chance to reunite with true friends | Daily Mail Online

The only problem is that these same countries don't actually want an 'Empire 2.0':

Tories’ ‘imperial vision’ for post-Brexit trade branded disruptive and deluded

Top official slams Whitehall notion of colonial-style trade deals and says devising pact between UK and African, Caribbean and Pacific states would take six years

28 April 2017

The head of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of nations has ruled out a free trade deal with the UK until at least six years after Brexit and taken a sideswipe at the idea of a new British trade empire.

The ACP chief, Dr Patrick Gomes, condemned “reactionary” Whitehall talk of a second era of British colonialism – dubbed “Empire 2.0” – and poured scorn on the government’s trade strategy.

A six-year delay to any post-Brexit deal would be a bitter setback to the government, which had hoped to use the 2018 Commonwealth summit in London as a springboard for closer trade ties with Anglophone states such as South Africa, Nigeria and Jamaica.

Tories’ ‘imperial vision’ for post-Brexit trade branded disruptive and deluded | Global development | The Guardian
Great Britain’s Dangerous Attitude Problem | Geopolitical Monitor

Because what made Britain 'great' was in fact a very skewed kind of 'globalisation':

Is Brexit Britain suffering from an imperial hangover?

Britain's biggest post-Brexit challenge will be dealing with its imperial past.

29 MARCH 2017

May has promised a "truly global Britain" outside the EU and some supporters of Brexit have framed the break from Brussels as an opportunity for Britain to strengthen its historical, imperial relationships.

This is a deeply problematic and dangerous view. To become "truly global" Britain needs to shake off this imperial hangover.

As Twitter branded Wednesday, March 29 "Brexit Day", historian David Starkey appeared on the BBC's Today Programme to compare Brexit to Henry VIII's historic break from Rome. Crucially, he argued that the Reformation presaged the "expansion of England" and suggested that Brexit may see another age of empire.

Since the vote to leave the EU, visions of Britain's future relationship with the rest of the world has repeatedly invoked imperial motifs. From Theresa May's promise of a "red, white, and blue" Brexit to the suggestion that the Royal Yacht Britannia be recommissioned to facilitate trade deals, Britain's future has been presented as an opportunity to return to a glorious past.

Most famously, or infamously, the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox's focus on deals with countries that once belonged to the British Empire has been labelled "Empire 2.0" by Whitehall officials.

Is Brexit Britain suffering from an imperial hangover? | UK | Al Jazeera

And yet what is actually happening is that old 'British' companies and industries are being bought out by former subjects:
How the East India Company became a weapon to challenge UK’s colonial past | World news | The Guardian
Steel baron Lakshmi Mittal stumps up close to £800m to help his embattled steel firm cope with tumbling prices | This is Money
Indian-origin Hinduja brothers stay on top of UK rich list | business-news | Hindustan Times
Indians: Three of Britain’s four wealthiest are Indians - The Economic Times

Which is highly ironic, as a new book suggests:

Inglorious Empire by Shashi Tharoor — the rapacious Raj

A combative history of the British in India swats aside notions of benevolent imperial rule

MARCH 17, 2017 by: Victor Mallet

India, surprisingly, does not loom large in the history taught in most British schools. This is not simply a matter of children having the wrong idea about the two centuries of exploitation that financed the British empire and many of its wars; often, they have no idea at all. Even the victims — or, more properly, their descendants, the nearly 2bn people of the Indian subcontinent — have only a hazy notion of the horrors inflicted during the colonial period.

Shashi Tharoor seems at first glance an improbable advocate to redress the balance. A writer and politician born in London and educated at English-language schools in India, he speaks in a languid, upper-class English drawl and confesses to a love of tea, cricket and PG Wodehouse, all of which the British imported to their richest colony. Inglorious Empire had its origins in an Oxford Union debate in 2015; Tharoor argued playfully that “Britain Owes Reparations to Her Former Colonies” and then found his speech had gone viral back in India. A Congress member of parliament, he was lauded even by his political rival Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata party prime minister.

Tharoor convincingly demolishes some of the more persistent myths about Britain’s supposedly civilising mission in India, echoing William Dalrymple’s laments over the looting of the country by the East India Company and the rise of British racism in the 19th century, and rejecting Niall Ferguson’s defence of imperialism as a force for free trade and the rule of law.

Summoning evidence from British and American historians as well as Indian thinkers, Tharoor charts the destruction of pre-colonial systems of government by the British and their ubiquitous ledgers and rule books; the punitive taxation of farmers and mismanagement of famines in which millions died; the imposition of laws against homosexuality and sedition used to this day by authoritarian Indian governments; and the extreme protectionism (in everything from textiles to shipbuilding) that crippled India’s world-class manufacturing sectors and its pre-existing international trade networks. “Britain’s Industrial Revolution,” he writes, “was built on the destruction of India’s thriving manufacturing industries.”

The statistics are worth repeating, the more so because India is now often neglected in favour of China when historians recall the economic dominance of Asia. When the East India Company was established in 1600, Britain accounted for 1.8 per cent of global gross domestic product and India for 23 per cent. India was one of the richest and most industrialised economies. In 1750, India and China together accounted for nearly three-quarters of world industrial output, but India “was transformed by the process of imperial rule into one of the poorest, most backward, illiterate and diseased societies on earth by the time of our independence in 1947”. By then, India’s share of world GDP was just 3 per cent, while Britain’s was three times as high.

If the more nostalgic Brexiters think trading with former colonial nations will in some way compensate for the costs of leaving the EU, they should first examine the blood-soaked history of their country’s relationship with India. It could be a revelation.

Inglorious Empire by Shashi Tharoor — the rapacious Raj - Financial Times

[Listen to Tharoor on Start the Week:
BBC Radio 4 - Start the Week, India's Rise?]

Besides, India seems to be warming to another European country:
Modi supports Merkel's EU leadership as Donald Trump critises Germany | Business Standard News

This is only India - but what about other non-EU countries wishing to 'invest' in the UK?

The West Country's biggest project is being primarily funded by China:
Construction begins on China-invested British nuclear project - Business - Chinadaily.com.cn

But not everyone's happy:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and sovereignty and Devon
Futures Forum: Energy infrastructure @ Hinkely C >>> losing control and paying tithes to Direct Foreign Investors
Futures Forum: The issues of ownership and energy security @ Hinkley C >>> but 'business in the South West face the bitter disappointment of further delays'
Futures Forum: Brexit: and infrastructure projects

From one perspective, Foreign Direct Investment is looking good:
Foreign investors back Brexit Britain - Telegraph
LSE BREXIT – Foreign direct investment will remain robust post-Brexit

But not necessarily:
UK remains top destination for foreign investment but worrying signs gather of Brexit impact | The Independent
Brexit would cut foreign direct investment by fifth, report says - Financial Times

Here's a very upbeat view from an Investment Development Manager in Torbay:

Actions speak louder than works

By Devon Live | Posted: May 22, 2017

Britain is the number one destination in Europe for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) according to figures released at the end of last month by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). UK FDI soared to $253.7bn (£197bn) in 2016 up from £38bn the previous year. The figures also show that the bulk of the increase in FDI to the EU was driven by the UK, an increase of 17%. Even with larger deals stripped out, the UK is still the top destination in Europe.

So what about Brexit? Surely companies were supposed to be holding back and considering their position? Weren't we told to expect a slow down a year on from the referendum?

There are so many differing forecasts on the impact of Brexit, but I wonder what the views are of Torbay's stakeholders and influencers now as to what Torbay must do to attract further inward investment and FDI. It is especially difficult to attract FDI if you aren't a major city. Together we should be spearheading the cause working with those foreign owned businesses that are already here, given its importance for job creation and growth and the need to support the raise in productivity levels that the wider Heart of the South West area needs to achieve.

It is easy to use the phrase "...we must seek to attract investment..." or "…we fully support these initiatives..." but there needs to be a level of understanding and support for the investment cause to appreciate how it works.

Perceived, or otherwise, connectivity and infrastructure issues, including digital as well as physical still arise in our conversations with businesses, especially those operating internationally. Greater recognition and exposure of Torbay's manufacturing capabilities and R & D expertise is still often overshadowed by other parts of our economy – or worse still it is thought that we don't have it – which just isn't the case as I have written in previous columns.

Funding to support growth, for indigenous and foreign owned companies, as long as the money is invested here, helping to maintain our business base for the future should perhaps be on the list of 'wants' also.

Torbay will continue to add, in small part, to next year's OECD figures with new FDI to Torbay and existing FDI companies growing, in both manufacturing and R & D. It has been said before by my colleagues – and it's a phrase that is being used with confidence – 'Torbay's time is now'.

So, if you are part of a Torbay business, please tell those who need to hear what you think is needed to support growth. And maybe also tell your supply chains, intermediaries, professional advisors and industry associations to consider Torbay as their next expansion target and to act soon, so that they can become part of our future success.

​Sponsored: Actions speak louder than works by Jason Buck | Devon Live

So, we are back to the strange creature that is the Heart of the South West:
Futures Forum: Devolution and Local Enterprise Partnerships >>> "unaccountable to anyone and unrepresentative of the local economy"

There are alternative ways of doing business:
Futures Forum: Foreign Direct Investment ... vs ... supporting locally-owned small businesses
Futures Forum: ‘Buying British in 2017’ >>> a resurgence of small businesses producing authentic, heritage products
Futures Forum: "99% of East Devon's businesses are either micro or small enterprises" >>> Will the District Council be giving them 'discretionary relief' against business rate increases?

Finally, then, 'doing business' beyond the EU need not mean massive foreign investment projects encouraged by a few big players in the Local Enterprise Partnership:

Small businesses are the key to post Brexit confidence

By Western Morning News | Posted: October 06, 2016

Tony Horner, Managing Director of Ideal Foods has signed a $3million export contract with China.There are opportunities out there for the region's businesses

Business investment will blow away post Brexit uncertainty, experts say.

Business leaders that plough cash into people, products and processes will create the confidence needed to overcome Brexit turbulence. And the key could lie with the region's 531,000 SMEs, which take the lion share of enterprises thriving in Devon and Cornwall. In Cornwall, SMEs make up 95% of businesses.

Kim Conchie, Chief Executive of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said: "My message to businesses is be confident. It's too easy to talk your way into recession."Businesses have to make sure that their business plan is correct, that staff are well trained and motivated, customer relationships are strong and the supply chain is robust. Confidence is intangible in the economic model but businesses have to keep their mojo, that's the key to success."

In the lead up to the referendum, many firms put spending decisions on hold. But a recent report by Lloyds Bank suggests that business activity in the South West returned to growth in August after a brief post-referendum contraction.

The South West PMI, (purchasing managers' index) is regarded as leading economic health-check of UK regions.It showed that the region was the second fasting growing region in the UK in August.New business orders grew faster than the UK national average and regional employment levels rose slightly for the second month running.

However, the data also revealed that cost pressures for private firms continued to intensify, which could be accredited to the weaker pound, and higher fuel and labour costs. As a result, firms increased the charges for their products and services in an attempt to offset this increasing cost burden – their output prices increased at the fastest rate since February 2014.

David Beaumont, regional director for SME Banking for the South West, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "This latest PMI suggests that the post-referendum slowdown in business activity was short-lived. The South West is performing better than most other UK regions and data for the third quarter is signalling a faster overall rate of expansion than in the second quarter thanks to a rise in new business orders."

With interest rates at an all-time low, many businesses are sticking to their investment plans. At Westward Ho!, the Stonehaven Care Group has invested £3million into a specialist dementia care unit. In Plymouth, Artemis Optical is set to create 24 jobs as part of an £800,000 investment into high-tech workspace and equipment.

Philip Letts, Chief Executive of blur Group and chairman of Tech South West, said that business leaders need to think on a global scale.He said: ""We need to do more to attract the very best talent and inward investment. We are competing against major cities, other regions, other countries. There needs to be a highly attractive environment for businesses to thrive, and that means Government, councils, universities and businesses working harder to create an enticing offer and making sure our voice is heard.

"Business leaders need to be more ambitious. Investing in the best people, training, technology and data is crucial. There are global markets out there that blur Group is working in every day. We moved here to operate as a global company. Are enough South West based companies doing the research about opportunities wherever they are in the world, forming the right partnerships and leading the field? Why be bound by geography? When we were the world's leading maritime nation, the South West was a launch pad to the world. We need the same mentality today if we are to successfully compete in a global market."

With the weaker pound, South West firms have every opportunity to look overseas to form new trade relations. Business consultant Linda Middleton-Jones represents the Institute of Export in the South West. She is organising a global trade summit which will be held in Taunton, on October 5, 2016, and will involve delegates from China and Russia.

She explained: "With Brexit, the single most vital thing is for companies that are exporting to reinforce their relationships."They should treasure relationships and make contact while we are waiting to see when Article 50 is triggered."It's about keeping customers and striving for that trade to continue with Europe."

But for some organisations, good business lies closer to home. Patrick Langmaid, managing director of the Mother Ivey Holiday Park at Trevose Head, Cornwall is a Living Wage Ambassador. He said that the move is a virtuous circle, ensuring motivated staff, great customer service and more money in the local economy.

Patrick Langmaid, centre, said that paying staff a living wage makes good business sense

He said that increasing wages is the only way to ensure young people choose tourism as a career choice. His staff earn a minimum of £8.40 per hour, 15p an hour above the Living Wage, £1.20 above the National Living Wage and significantly above the minimum wage. He said: "We credit our success to our position on wages. We attract the best staff who are motivated and deliver excellent customer service.

"Staff are our magic ingredient. We pay what we can, not what we can get away with. Just because Cornwall is a low wage county does not excuse firms with a quality product, who sell on quality, from paying low wages. Cornwall is a strong tourism brand offering fantastic quality and great value, so it must be possible to pay decent living wages. We win awards because we pay well."

It is an important move in the South West where there are some of the most deprived areas of the country. Maps published by the Department for Communities and Local Government reveal Plymouth and Torbay are the most deprived districts across the whole of the South West, while some areas around Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and Holsworthy as also highly deprived. Cornwall has 17 different neighbourhoods that have been named among the most deprived in the country.

The task is to boost wages by attracting higher-paying jobs, said Susie Colley, chairman of the Torquay Chamber of Commerce.She said the need to attract businesses beyond the tourism sector was vital for Torbay's prosperity. She said: "We are in a new era and we cannot rely on tourism as our main economy. We want to support existing businesses and also attract new firms into our town.

"It is very important for us, particularly at a time when resources in local government are squeezed, that we step up to offer support and co-operation to the business community. By working together we are stronger, have a louder voice and can pool our resources."

Small businesses are the key to post Brexit confidence | Plymouth Herald

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