Business Leaders Summit 2016 - Supporting Britain's prosperity

 

In a speech marked by references to challenge and change, Philip Hammond noted that we entered 2016 with the world once again facing economic uncertainty. In addition to low oil prices, volatile stock markets and China’s slowdown, the International Monetary Fund’s estimated rate of global economic growth for 2015 was the lowest in seven years, he said.

The Rt. Hon. Philip Hammond MP

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

But unlike the recession that struck in 2008, Mr Hammond noted that this time the world is also dealing with “a level of global strategic insecurity and instability we haven’t seen since the end of the Cold War”. He said the behaviour of North Korea, Iran and Russia continued to cause concern, the migration crisis represents a real political threat to some of Europe’s governments and Daesh is a menace on multiple continents. In his view, all this represents “a potentially toxic mix of threats that represent a grave challenge to UK and global security”.

INSULATING BRITAIN FROM GLOBAL TUMULT

Mr Hammond said this is far from ideal for business, which he said prospers when uncertainty about the long-term business environment is minimised. Britain, he said, cannot be immune from the global tumult, but the government would seek to insulate the British economy through the pursuit of its long-term economic plan.

Domestically, he said this would entail remedying old structural weaknesses that have existed for decades: shortcomings in education and training, the welfare system and an infrastructure deficit; in other words, "fixing the roof." But it would also involve working to engage with the world’s fastest growing economies, and those with the greatest potential, like never before, Mr Hammond added.

Video: Supporting Britain's Prosperity

HELPING BRITISH BUSINESSES ABROAD

“It all adds up to a picture of serious instability across the world, a potentially toxic mix of threats that represent a grave challenge to UK and global security.”

To that end, he noted that the Foreign Office has been given a mandate to lead the charge for British business around the globe. This would entail coordinating British business approaches to key opportunity sectors, lobbying foreign governments for access and fair treatment, and advocating for liberalisation to create a benign business environment.

He also highlighted that important concessions had been won in a draft deal to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership. Of most interest to business leaders would be the moves towards greater competitiveness, he stated, and clauses ensuring that Britain would not lose out as a result of the decision not to join the euro.

Mr Hammond also pledged that despite the volatile global environment, the government would work to secure British prosperity by charting a clear course on economic security, the foundation on which national security is built. Business and business leaders are, and would be, a vital part of that success, Mr Hammond concluded.

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