You don’t have to look far in the Pacific North West to see its strong business ties to Britain. Delta Airlines has just reinforced this with a new flight connecting Seattle to London Heathrow, increasing daily direct flights between the UK and Washington State by 70%. We did our part to make sure Britain was open for Pacific North West business when we re-established a full-time Consul in a new UK Government Office in Seattle just over a year ago. Just as the UK economy started picking up again.
UK-Oregon trade is valued at nearly $450 million annually
Already the data highlights the strength of Britain’s relationship with the Pacific North West. UK-Washington State trade amounts to some $3 billion in goods each year. The UK is the third largest foreign employer in the state with British companies like Rolls Royce, BAES, BA, HSBC, Atkins Aerospace and SLR Corporation employing over 13,000 people. In Oregon, the UK is the largest foreign employer supporting over 8,000 jobs, and UK-Oregon trade is valued at nearly $450 million annually. On the other side of the pond, the UK hosts Pacific North West companies like Microsoft, Nike, Amazon, Expedia, PACCAR, Costco, Tableau Software, Coaxis Viewpoint, Act-On Software, TripWire and Zulily. Starbucks only last week announced that they are moving their European HQ to London.
Ours is a prosperous relationship built up over centuries, though a shared history, common language and belief in open markets, with the potential for so much more. For a start, there’s our complementary excellence in advanced manufacturing, information communications technology, life sciences or clean technology. Over here, Seattle and Portland are hubs for British companies to the rest of the West Coast, Alaska and the Asia-Pacific. Over there, the UK offers Pacific North West entrepreneurs both a major market in its own right and a perfect launch pad into Europe and beyond. Furthermore, if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the EU-US free trade agreement, turns out to be the comprehensive and ambitious trade agreement we want, Washington State’s and Oregon’s exports to the EU could each increase by roughly 25%.
So why should companies looking to go global choose Britain? You could start with our economic plan, our talented and skilled workforce, a deliberately competitive business environment, or because we have a large domestic consumer base – with access to the EU’s single market of 500 million consumers. Not convinced? Then just look at the metrics. The IMF forecasts that the UK will be the fastest-growing developed economy this year. The World Economic Forum credits Britain with the fifth most efficient labour market in the world. The World Bank rates the UK as the tenth-easiest country in the world to do business. And, for the tell-tale vote of confidence, the UK saw its foreign direct investment (FDI) go up in 2013 in both value and market share in stark contrast to other countries.
Britain is the world’s largest centre for cross-border banking
One of the biggest jewels in the UK’s business crown is our financial services sector, creating over 12% of our GDP, employing 2 million people and attracting a third of all the UK’s foreign direct investment (FDI). The UK is the world’s leading financial services centre, the world’s largest centre for cross-border banking, and the largest insurance industry in Europe. Our time zone means London can work virtually around the clock, facilitating business between the US, Europe and Asia all on the same business day.
We make things too. Britain boasts world-class industries making the things that we export to the rest of the world. Take aerospace. Britain is the largest aerospace manufacturer in Europe, and second largest in the world after the US, with 17% of the global market share. British aerospace companies design, manufacture and assemble technologically complex and valuable parts of airliners like wings, engines, aerostructures and advanced aircraft systems, exporting 75% of what we produce. To give it some local relevance, a Boeing 787 fitted with Rolls Royce engines is 25% UK content. If you want to see more, come to the Farnborough International Airshow this July.
Britain’s economy is forecast to grow 2.7% this year
You can’t have a competitive aerospace sector without innovation. And our innovation extends into many other sectors, from life sciences to clean technology, and information communications technology and the creative industries. Whether it’s pioneering IVF treatments, Grand Theft Auto or Downton Abbey: it’s done in Britain, backed up by centres of excellence and protected science budgets.
Ultimately though, the UK’s reputation as one of the world’s leading business locations depends on our long-term economic security and competitiveness. The last few years have been difficult: Britain’s economy contracted 7.2% during the recession—twice as much as the United States. So the UK Government implemented an austerity programme to reduce our deficit and lay clear foundations for long-term, sustainable economic recovery. To date, we’ve cut our deficit by a third to 7%; our economy is forecast to grow 2.7% this year, the fastest in the G7, and we have seen record rates of job creation.
We’re cutting and simplifying regulation
These are some of the pro-business measures we’ve put in place.
Competitive tax rates. At 21%, the UK has the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7. By 2015 when it drops to 20%, it will be the joint-lowest in the G20. Plus we’ve put in place a patent box which lowers the corporate tax on profits from IP registered in Britain to only 10%. Small and medium-sized companies are eligible for Research and Development tax credits of 225%; larger companies are eligible for 130%. In March, the Chancellor doubled the annual investment allowance to around $840,000 until the end of 2015.
We’re cutting and simplifying regulation, not least through the one-in, two-out rule. This rule has saved UK businesses £1.2 billion between January 2011 and December 2013. We’re investing in infrastructure: in roads, rail, schools, broadband and science.
We’re creating the most talented and flexible workforce in Europe. Six of the world’s top twenty universities are in the UK. But we’re not letting up there. We’re investing in apprenticeships, working with British companies on employer-led programmes to create the talent with hands-on experience. More than 1 and a half million apprentices have started a programme since 2010.
UKTI is a one-stop-shop
Helping overseas companies doing business in Britain is our award-winning national trade promotion agency – UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). UKTI is a one-stop-shop, providing dedicated, professional assistance on all aspects of locating a new business in the UK or expanding existing facilities. Their goal is to help investors find the right UK location, providing factual reports on key decision drivers like market access, skills, R&D, regulations, real estate and labour cost, and connecting investors with sector networks and centres of excellence. It also helps British companies expand to the Pacific North West. UKTI has offices at the British Consulates General in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, and UKTI representatives visit Seattle and Oregon regularly.
I and my colleagues in San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles are working hard to make sure that Britain’s relationship with the Pacific North West is as mutually prosperous as we can both make it. If you’re interested in knowing more, please get in touch.
Telephone: 1 415 617 1300