In my last column, we were on the verge of welcoming the Clipper Round the World yacht race to Seattle, the first time that the race had visited Seattle in its 20-year history. It was fantastic to meet the boats, their skippers and crew while they were here recovering from the testing Pacific crossing. I hope you got to see them, berthed in the marina or sailing in Elliott Bay. They’re all safely back in Britain now, having completed the race. And I’m happy to report that UK-sponsored boats LMAX Exchange, Derry-Londonderry-Doire and GREAT secured the top three places.
It’s been a while since I last wrote so I want to use my column this time to share with you a brief overview of how some of the post-EU referendum changes in the British Government will impact the work the British Government does in Seattle, and across the US.
The first thing to say is that post-referendum, Britain remains open for business. We will continue to be a bold, outward-looking thriving nation, prospering on the world stage. We are the fifth largest economy in the world, the second fastest-growing economy of any major developed country last year, ranked in the top 6 countries in the world as a place to do business. The Prime Minister has been clear that Brexit means Brexit. And while our future relationship with the EU is still to be determined, we are not leaving Europe. We will want the strongest possible economic links with our European neighbours, with the US, and our other important partners around the world. The UK's latest foreign direct investment (FDI) figures, published in August, show a record number of inward investment projects in 2015/16 – an 11% increase on the year before – creating or safeguarding 116,000 jobs. The report confirms that we remain the top destination in Europe for FDI, and that the US continues to be our largest source of inward investment. Since 23 June, Amazon has announced the creation of a further 1,000 UK jobs, Microsoft has opened three cloud computing data centres in the UK, and Boeing has entered into a strategic partnership with the UK that will increase UK supply chain opportunities and increase Boeing’s UK workforce by 2,000.
Post-referendum, UKTI has been elevated and integrated into a new Department of International Trade (DIT). DIT will be responsible for trade and investment, trade policy and export finance. DIT is led by Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP. One of Dr Fox’s first actions in July was to visit the US, announcing three new UK Government Offices – built on the Seattle model – in Minneapolis, Raleigh and San Diego. These new offices are part of the Government’s vision for an open and outward-looking UK economy, growing its footprint in the most important markets around the world.
The DIT teams in San Francisco and Los Angeles, led by Jaclyn Mason and Carlo Cavagna respectively, will continue to cover trade and investment in Washington State. The San Francisco team covers Technology; the Los Angeles team covers Aerospace, Clean Tech, Life Sciences, Retail, and Financial and Professional Business Services. They and their teams are regular visitors to Seattle - do let me know if they can be of help to companies you know.
Andrew Whittaker arrived in San Francisco in August to take up his post as HM Consul General, responsible for delivering the British Government’s objectives across the north-western United States (northern California, Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska). He looks forward to meeting BABC PNW’s members at the Christmas lunch on 16 December.
More immediately, my colleagues and I are pleased to be supporting the BABC PNW aerospace conference next month. DIT is once again a sponsor, and I’ll be joined on the day by colleagues from DIT, senior officials from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and Invest Bristol and Bath. We’re privileged to be sharing the platform with leadership from Boeing and Airbus, the CEO of the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute, and Seattle’s very own British astronaut too. I hope to see you there.
Robin Twyman, Consul (Business & Government Affairs)
UK Government Office, Seattle