Last week, I had the chance to speak to visiting ministers and delegations from both Australia and Turkey. The two countries are very different, of course — but representatives of both went out of their way to declare their strong interest in developing open, liberal and extensive free trade arrangements with the UK in future years. The Prime Minister returned from the G20 summit in Hangzhou with a brace of similar statements of intent, complete with bilateral working groups and official communications.
One could choose to interpret these declarations in one of two ways. The pessimist would say they are merely words, that the devil will be in the detail, and that open trading arrangements are unlikely to emerge. The optimist, meanwhile, would treat these declarations by friendly nations as sincere — and work constructively to transform statements of intent into concrete facts.
British Chambers of Commerce, both here in the UK and across the world, have an important role to play in this process.
First, by gathering evidence on two-way trade challenges and barriers between the UK and partner countries — to positively and constructively inform the many bilateral negotiations that lie ahead.
Second, by championing enhanced trade between the UK and key partners. Too many British businesses are being put off from opportunities, whether because of Brexit-related uncertainty or negative media headlines that don’t conform to reality.
And third, by reminding businesses that we have a unique Global Business Network
at their disposal. Here in the UK, we need to promote what overseas British Chambers can do for member businesses — not to mention our counterparts in local and national Chambers of Commerce in markets across the globe.
Last week’s trade statistics
and our new BCC Economic Forecast
show the continued importance of the Chamber Network’s ongoing efforts on trade facilitation and trade promotion. Brexit and new Free Trade Agreements remain some way off — so we must concentrate on doing everything we can to support two-way trade in the here and now. Helping local firms go global is one of the key missions of every Chamber of Commerce in the UK - and it’s more important than ever before.
As always, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line
if you’d like to get in touch.
Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce
Adam has worked at the BCC since July 2009, initially as Executive Director for Policy and External Affairs. Prior to joining, he helped start up the Centre for Cities organisation, built transatlantic industry-university links and worked in the broadcast media. He holds a BA from Yale University and MPhil and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge.