Building a global network will open up new opportunities in Burnley | Antony Higginbotham

On the 1st of January this year the UK once again became an independent trading nation after nearly half a century of having all trade policy tied to the EU.

To some this represented safety in numbers but in most cases, it meant that we lacked the flexibility required to act in our national interest in a fast-moving economic environment – one where goods from around the world can move with ease and bespoke deals are available for those who are willing to sit around the table and negotiate.

And with our economic recovery now more vital than ever before, no time has been wasted in seizing the opportunities available to us.

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Trade agreements have been signed not only with the EU itself, cementing our ability to trade with our continental partners, but with a plethora of nations from around the globe who have lined up to strike free trade agreements with a newly independent United Kingdom.

Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham

The most significant of those so far has been the agreement reached with Australia – a nation that shares our values, and one where there are enormous ties between family and friends.

And its significance comes from being an agreement struck – start to finish – as a nation outside the EU, demonstrating our ability and ambition.

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To further cement that relationship, this week the Prime Minister announced that Lord Ian Botham will go batting for us down under, as a Trade Envoy for the UK to Australia.

His role, and the role of the other envoys appointed, is to help businesses here at home make the most of our new trading relationship – finding new export opportunities and promoting UK trade.

A new envoy was also appointed for New Zealand, and here is where our next exciting opportunity lies. Negotiations have been taking place with that country for many months now and the latest update from the International Trade Secretary show we are on the cusp of reaching agreement.

A deal with New Zealand could see the removal of tariffs on an array of UK and New Zealand exports, such as food and drink, clothing, and manufactured goods – all of which would be good news for our local businesses, and consumers.

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And once agreement is reached with New Zealand, our progress towards joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership will take a leap forward. This is an enormous, £9 trillion free trade area and, most importantly, it includes some of the fastest growing global markets where demand is outstripping supply in everything from meat to manufactured goods, presenting huge opportunities for us.

But as well as striving for deals abroad we also want to ensure we’re attracting investment at home too. We have some world-class international businesses that have chosen Burnley and Padiham as their UK home, creating high-wage, high-skilled jobs. This is something we all want to see continue and grow.

And it is doing. In the latest study from EY as part of its 2021 Attractiveness Survey the UK gained top spot in Europe, cementing our place as the best country for international investors to come and set-up businesses, create jobs, and support our communities.

So far in 2021 we’ve seen investors bring over 1,500 projects and 55,000 new jobs to all corners of the UK, with over £10 billion in large capital investment either spent or committed to invest.

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This is testament to our outward looking vision of Global Britain. We all know that private industry is the driver of innovation and prosperity but for businesses to flourish the Government must create the right environment for it.

And in signing free trade deals, as they are doing, that environment is being created. Because as we continue to build a network of deal stretching across the globe, we will open up new markets and opportunities to local businesses here in Burnley and Padiham. It will also act as a springboard for further inward investment as our nation becomes a launchpad into the world’s largest and most vibrant market places.

The drive towards opening up opportunities for UK businesses around the world is powering ahead. Later this year we will host the Global Investment Summit as part of the mission to turbocharge foreign investment in the green industries of the future.

My job is to keep working with the Government to lay the foundations for our long-term prosperity and really level up opportunities for every person and business across Burnley and Padiham.