APPG Advisory Groups present papers to Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox MP

On 26 March 2018, the APPG’s Secretariat, ACCA convened a roundtable of the Sector Advisory Group Chairs and the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox MP. at Portcullis House Westminster.

APPG meeting
Clockwise: Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox MP, Stuart Thompson, Head of Public Affairs – Bircham Dyson Bell (Energy & Infrastructure), Helen Brocklebank, CEO – Walpole (Consumer Goods), John Williams, Head of Employer Engagement UK- ACCA, John McVay, Chief Executive – Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (Creative Industries), Matthew Houlihan, Director of Corporate and Government Affairs- Cisco (Smart Technologies), Mike Houghton, Managing Director, Process Industries & Drives Division- Siemens (Process & Engineering), Ufi Ibrahim (Hospitality & Leisure), John Whitehead OBE, Food and Drink Exporters Association (Agribusiness, Food & Drink), Paul Benton, Managing Director- Association of British Healthcare Industries, Lilly Aaron Policy Manager for Europe -ACCA, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP.

Since the second meeting of the sector advisory Chairs in January 2018, the advisory groups have been working on ‘challenge papers’ based on the initial scoping discussions between the groups. These papers attempt to identify existing barriers to trade, areas for improved government support or intervention and opportunities arising from prospective trade agreements on the horizon.

The Secretary of State opened with a brief introduction outlining the strengths of the Department since its inception in exports, investment and trade policy. 3.7% increase in global trade and a 13.2% increase in UK exports.

The Minister applauded recent data which shows that UK manufacturing has enjoyed 30 consecutive quarters of growth, the longest period of continuous growth in 50 years. He also highlighted the highest level of FDI ever in the UK last year despite a year which saw an overall fall in global FDI. Recent DIT surveys of investor sentiment shows that investors consistently choose the UK because of its robust and consistent legal system, skilled workforce, taxation environment as well as access to cutting edge technological developments and world class UK educational institutions.

The Secretary of State said the UK will continue to have access to EU third country agreements during the transitional period (around 40 in total) and will be taking the time allowed by the implementation period to move to more bespoke deals, including with the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Moderated by Chair of the APPG for International Trade, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Advisory Group Chairs were given 2 minutes to present the main points of their paper to the Secretary of State with an opportunity for reply from the Minister.

Energy & Infrastructure

Stuart Thompson, Head of Public Affairs at Bircham Dyson Bell and Energy & Infrastructure Chair raised issues on clarity on improvements to globally relevant UK infrastructure and access to high volume, EU labour which underpins UK infrastructure projects.

The Secretary of State said there would be three levels of infrastructure across the UK that we would need to succeed; hard transport infrastructure, soft infrastructure such as digital connectivity  and world-class talent pools.

Consumer Goods

Helen Brocklebank, CEO at Walpole and Consumer Goods Chair raised the groups desire to see a continuation of regulatory frameworks- particularly on IP protections and selective distribution, advance DIT support (inc Great Campaign) to help SME’s gain a foothold in-market.

The Secretary of State noted the recent boost in funding for the Great Campaign and appointment of new Trade Commissioners; people would need to be moved to where trade value is focused rather than just political centres.

Financial and Related Professional Services

Gary Campkin, Director of Policy and Strategy at TheCityUK and Professional Services Chair suggested the UK has an opportunity now to become a global ‘thoughtleader’ on standards and stressed the importance of cross-border data flows to businesses offering services globally and data localisation as a protectionist issue. Gary highlighted the need for access to global talent, including access arrangements for skilled financial professionals and mutual recognition of qualifications.

The Secretary of State said the lack of a single market for services has held UK services exports back-  last year only 38% of exports to the EU were in services where over 50% of global exports were in services. The UK would be seeking to get away from identity of regulation to move towards regulatory equivalence. The UK would seek to move towards equivalence based on outcomes for global trade.

The Secretary of State said that he regretted that movement on global data flows had been held up at EU level.

Creative Industries

John McVay, Chief Executive at the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television and Creative Industries Chair outlined the high proportion of SMEs of that fail to export in the sector. John said TAP Grants are vital and called for a new sector body to work with the Department to align funding. John highlighted the continued importance for the UK Fashion industry of Unregistered Design Rights across Europe and called for the exemption of audio-visual from FTAs as inclusion could impact the BBC.

The Secretary of State invited John to issue a brief ahead of his imminent travel to the US  as well as noting that difficulties with SME investment can stem from SMEs being unable to take on projects for the volumes of capital investors look to deploy. The government would be looking to do the due diligence for SMEs to help them attract investments. The Secretary of State also reiterated that the rules for UK export finance had changed and businesses were now able to get this directly from the banks.

Smart Technologies & Digital Services

Matthew Houlihan, Director of Corporate and Government Affairs at Cisco and Smart Technologies & Digital Services Chair reiterated the importance of breaking down barriers and adopting a more globally consistent approach to global data flows would be important.  The group felt that the regulatory environment should look for EU alignment, there are areas of emerging technology, such as AI, in which the UK can set out alone to become a home for innovation through its regulatory approaches. The UK should also sign up to the WTO IT agreement offering zero-rated tariffs on tech products.

The Secretary of State said that data flows will likely be one of the most difficult issues in EU negotiations because of disparity in member states approaches. This had held up TiSA and prevented further talks with the US  which the UK could explore when it leaves the EU. The Minister said the UK should not prioritise today’s economy at the expense of tomorrows.

Process & Engineering

Mike Houghton, Managing Director for Process Industries & Drives Division at Siemens and Process & Engineering Chair raised a government level lack of strategy for the 4th industrial revolution and suggested the Made Smarter Review as a platform for progression.The UK must to do more to compete for FDI with investment frameworks and incentives.

The Secretary of State said that the key for manufacturing would be guiding investment through investor guidance for those new to the UK Market.  Investors don’t come to the UK for a high yield environment but for stability and reliable returns; this would underpin the UK’s long-term growth.

Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure

Ufi Ibrahim Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure Chair outlined that he industry had grown however, comparative performance with other countries was lacking. Ufi’s group felt easing the visa requirements for Chinese tourist visitors would greatly help the industry and outlined the soft power of tourism stating analysis which shows that anyone visiting the UK was 20% more likely to subsequently invest in the UK.  Availability of talent remains important to the industry.

The Secretary of State stated government awareness over issues with visas and recognised the mismatch between visiting Chinese students and tourists which demonstrates a willingness to come if the UK can provide what they need. The Secretary of State said much of problem came from a lack of air routes to China. The Great Campaign would also subsequently be looking at improving perceptions and getting tourists outside of London.

Agribusiness, Food & Drink

John Whitehead OBE, Director at the Food and Drink Exporters Association and Agribusiness, Food & Drink Chair said the UK’s current physical certification system could be streamlined by making better use of modern technology and raised the lack of Border Inspection Posts (BIPs) which could mean produce was held up at main ports upon leaving the EU.  John called for greater technical, legal and standards guidance- including veterinary and phytosanitary counsel in UK embassies in foreign markets.

The Secretary of State acknowledged the need for a new border arrangement and said that this was an opportunity to future-proof border arrangements. The system needed immediate investment and new technologies such as blockchain could vastly improve border processes.  The Treasury has made money available for this.

The Secretary of State said the Department was working on support overseas, with 22 UK Export finance people in-market to help with issues such as financing and insurance. This will also help get companies in to more risky markets with a new reasonably priced, political risk insurance offered directly by UK Export Finance to cover non-payment of government contracts and terrorism etc.

Healthcare and Life Sciences

Paul Benton, Managing Director at the Association of British Healthcare Industries and Healthcare and Life Sciences Chair’s group called for regulatory alignment with the EU over medicines and devices and highlighted the new opportunity for the MHRA to play a role in global harmonisation of regulation. Paul’s group welcomed any opportunity to work with government to reverse the decline of private patients coming to the UK for treatment. Paul raised concerns around time delays on just-in-time medical products as a result of leaving the customs union.

The Secretary of State said the government would look to align with the European Medicines Agency. The Minister said the UK industry had a history of not overproducing professionals for fear of professional unemployment. However, to grow services exports, he acknowledged the country would need more professionals including accountants, doctors, lawyers and health technicians.


Email for a round-up of the meeting,  full copy of the Challenge Papers presented by the groups can be found here:

SAG Challenge Paper Collated FINAL

APPG IT&I welcomes Greg Hands and Mark Garnier to discuss the Belt and Road Initiative

On Tuesday 19 December, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Trade and Investment held an event with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in the UK Houses of Parliament in Westminster to discuss the UK’s commitment to Belt and Road Initiative and launch a report looking in to the economic benefits of the Modern Silk Road economic corridor within the Belt and Road Route.

Following APPG Chair, Geoffrey Clifton- Brown MP’s welcome address, ACCA Chief Executive Helen Brand gave a speech to outline the need for UK commitment to the Belt and Road Initiative and the value of accountancy professionals in helping businesses connect along new trade routes. The APPG was joined by Minister of State for Trade Policy, Greg Hands MP for a keynote speech which discussed the need for investment in the UK market to allow the Department for International Trade to maximise on the opportunity for post-Brexit Free Trade Agreements. The Minister was then joined by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Investment, Mark Garnier MP for a Q&A with the audience.


Margot James MP, Business Minister Michael Fallon, Mike Patton of GE Aviation and Peter Russell of RBS

Parliamentary Launch for the Manufacturer of the Year Awards

On Monday 3rd March the APPG for Trade & Investment hosted the Parliamentary Launch of the Manufacturer of the Year Awards 2014. Manufacturers are encouraged to enter one of 13 award categories including People and Skills; Sustainable Manufacturing; Innovation and Design; and Young Manufacturer of the Year. The Awards unite the manufacturing community and provide an opportunity for both celebration and recognition of the success of British industry. The Launch was attended by over 200 MPs, business leaders, and representatives from some of the UK’s biggest manufacturers. Continue reading “Parliamentary Launch for the Manufacturer of the Year Awards”

International Festival of Business

International Festival of Business Reception

On Thursday 28th November the APPG for Trade & Investment hosted a reception in Parliament to promote the International Festival of Business. The Festival will see over a hundred world-class events running back-to-back over 50 days in June and July 2014, providing a stage for British companies to connect and engage with new markets, new products and new partners. More than 150 international business leaders, MPs and embassy representatives attended the reception to help support the Festival and learn more about how they can be involved.

Ian McCarthy, Festival Director, gave an overview of the Festival and explained how valuable the networking opportunity will be for British companies. By gathering representation from more than 125 countries, the Festival will bring £100m worth of direct investment into the UK and enable businesses to make the connections that matter.

The reception also saw a passionate speech from entrepreneur Sarah Wood, co-founder of the video marketing company ‘UNRULY’. Sarah, who is an IFB Ambassador, discussed the obstacles she faced when taking her company global. She provided an entrepreneur’s perspective on how the Festival will help businesses meet the right clients, suppliers and advisers to develop an international presence.

Margot James, MP for Stourbridge, hosted the reception and said: “I am delighted that so many businesses and MPs are keen to be involved in the International Festival of Business. A huge number of small businesses in the UK have exporting potential and the Festival will provide them with the practical assistance to make the most of these opportunities. The government is hoping to double British exports by 2020 and I am sure that the Festival will be a central component in reaching that target.”

If you would like any more information on the International Festival of Business please visit:

International Festival of Business
International Festival of Business
Entrepreneur Sarah Wood, Co-Founder of UNRULY
Entrepreneur Sarah Wood, Co-Founder of UNRULY
International Festival of Business Reception
International Festival of Business Reception
International Festival of Business Reception
International Festival of Business Reception
John McCarthy, International Festival of Business
John McCarthy, International Festival of Business

APPG for Trade & Investment Summer Reception – Tuesday 9th July

The APPG for Trade & Investment hosted its Summer Reception in Parliament on the 9th of July, to celebrate its first year of work and to show its gratitude to all of its dedicated members for their support.

APPG Summer Reception 2013
APPG Summer Reception 2013

Margot James MP, Chair of the group, thanked everyone for attending and for their support in making the APPG such a success after just one year. She highlighted a few of the success of the past year; including a visit to Tech City, the group’s first regional visit to the West Midlands, undertaking research with the IoD into the barriers to exporting, and holding the APPG’s first Trade Mission to Southeast Asia in conjunction with UKTI, the UK-ASEAN Business Council, Asia House, Prudential, and Barclays.

Guests of the reception ranged from MPs and Peers to Ambassadors, trade associations, banks, and businesses of all sizes. Well over one hundred and fifty people attended the event which was held on the House of Lords Terrace overlooking the River Thames.

Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, Minister of Trade & Investment, thanked everyone for their enthusiasm with the group, and spoke about how it is more important than ever that British business looks abroad to aid the country’s economic recovery. He also called for a greater British presence in emerging markets across the board, not only from businesses but also from the various business support agencies that operate globally.

The reception was made possible by the kind support of Prudential.

Regional Growth through Trade and Innovation

with the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, Minister for Business and Enterprise

Going for Growth through Trade
David Winstanley, Operations Director; Birmingham Airport
Paul Noon, West Midlands Regional Director, UKTI
Steve Brittan, President of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce
Phill Potter, West Midlands Export Finance Adviser, UK Export Finance
Ian Fletcher, International Trade Director, NatWest

Supporting Manufacturing Innovation
Stewart Towe, Chairman of Hadley Industries and Chair of the Black Country LEP
Andrew Churchill, MD of JJ Churchill
Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Enterprise

David Winstanley, Operations Director of Birmingham Airport welcomed the APPG for Trade & Investment to Birmingham and thanked everyone for making the effort to attend. He began by underlining the failure of Britain’s national aviation strategy, suggesting that no SME would operate with a strategy that had a single point of failure and was susceptible to time constraints, and yet this is how UK aviation works. Birmingham Airport’s submission to the Davies Commission stated that instead of relying on an overburdened Heathrow, a network of regional hubs should be developed, with modern rail and motorway infrastructure to support them. He concluded that whilst physical connectivity is important, connectivity of ideas and ingenuity is just as important, and this synergy is starting to pervade the West Midlands; the UK’s transport strategy must reinforce this.

Paul Noon, West Midlands Regional Director for UKTI spoke on the role that the organisation plays in the West Midlands and what its aims in the region are. UKTI want to see exports from the area doubled by 2020, and whilst there has been a 6 % growth so far, this will need to double to reach the target. Paul went on to set out UKTI’s organisation in the West Midlands which include 40 international trade advisors whose role is to discuss with companies their aims and provide tailored advice on the best methods and markets for their products. There is also an Advanced Routes to Market Team based in Coventry who can assist businesses looking at alternative routes into a new market, for example, through franchises.

Steve Brittan, President of the Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and Managing Director of BSA Machine Tools Ltd presented his views on the future of manufacturing and Heathrow. His company BSA Machine Tools has customers in China, Pakistan, Central America, Canada, Mexico, USA, and various other counties, and yet conspicuously few in Europe. Since the credit crisis, confidence has still yet to return to the Continent and there are greater rewards to be won in markets further afield. As a country with advanced engineering skills, Steve doesn’t see any future for Britain producing “nuts and bolts” which can be made abroad cheaper. Instead, we must focus on moving up the technology curve and exploiting the expertise and engineering skills that Britain has been able to hold onto. He concluded by suggesting that Heathrow developed as a hub in the past because of the range of planes. Now that aerospace technology has developed, there is no reason that Birmingham or Manchester can’t service the same airports that Heathrow used to dominate.

Phil Potter, West Midlands Export Finance Adviser with UKEF gave a brief outline of his position and his organisation, leaving the discussion of trade finance to Ian Fletcher. He highlighted that UKEF faces the same marketing difficulties as UKTI, but with radically less staff.

Ian Fletcher, International Trade Director for NatWest described his role as identifying risks and finding funding solutions for businesses looking to export. NatWest recognises that first-time exporters’ main concerns are how to break into a new market and how to finance these opportunities. Whilst UKTI helps with the former, solutions to the latter can come in many forms, including the Letter of Credit Guarantee Scheme, the Bond Support Scheme, and the Export Working Capital Scheme, all of which Ian explained in detail with illustrative case studies. Collaboration between UKEF and banks like NatWest mean that the whole spectrum of export finance can be supported, even when product insurance premiums are too high for the private sector.

Stewart Towe, Chairman of Hadley Industries and Chair of the Black Country LEP started the second panel on Innovative Manufacturing by discussing the role of the LEP. The main aim of the Black Country LEP currently is to get the 10% of businesses that it has engaged with to publicise its work and strengths to the 90% who aren’t aware of it. With regard to innovative manufacture, he cited the examples of the West Midlands new unique forge simulators, 3D printers and the world’s largest friction welding machine, all showing the region’s opportunity in high technology. He concluded by discussing innovative ways that the Regional Growth Fund could be used to encourage SMEs to get more involved in the greater business community, for example, suggesting that companies receiving a grant must commit to a 5 hours/week student placement to help spark an interest in the manufacturing sector in students from a younger age.

Andrew Churchill, MD of the third generation engineering company JJ Churchill Ltd opened his talk by proclaiming himself a great advocate of UKTI having received its help with entering Mexico. He explained that whilst manufacturing has been a ‘pariah’ for the past 5 years, this has been turned around both by industrial success and a supportive Government, and that manufacturing companies should capitalise on this mood. He clarified why the Government needs to set out a clear long-term industrial strategy which looks beyond the current Parliamentary term, in the same way that companies must. Issues such as access to finance, skills, greater industry collaboration, and widening the Science Budget ring fence to foster commercialisation of our universities’ ideas were all raised as areas for future action.

The keynote speech was delivered by Michael Fallon MP, Minister for Business. He began by outlining the difficulty that manufacturers in the UK have faced in the past, including an overdependence on European markets, a lack of access to finance, and oppressive amounts of red tape from the EU. The country has overcome these difficulties by becoming a world-leader in aerospace and automotive technologies and developing a range of new and innovative ideas from its universities. The West Midlands in particular has led these efforts, last year representing 7% of the UK’s Gross Value Added. To ensure the economy remains balanced, the Minister went on to discuss how the Government is acting to ensure the recovery is sustainable; Corporation Tax has been made more competitive, supply chains across the nation will be strengthened, and SME growth will be supported. He concluded that he wanted to see more self employed individuals taking the big leap to employ their first member of staff, which he believed they will in a sustainable, rebalanced economy.