It’s tough, but there are reasons to be cheerful too
Talking to shopkeepers in South West Bedfordshire recently, many have told me how they find the constant media diet of bad news unhelpful to their businesses.
Some media commentators have even tried to find a negative angle to recent very welcome falls in unemployment.
And as far as jobs are concerned, did you know that there have been over one million net new private sector jobs created since the General Election in June 2010? A total of 400,000 of those extra jobs have been created since May this year as well.
Youth employment also increased by 48,000 in the last quarter which is very good news.
As we look to the future there are many reasons to be optimistic. The world economy is expected to triple in size over the next 40 years and it is the UK’s task to make sure we seize as much of those growing markets as we possibly can.
In particular we need to export more to Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRICs as they are known) as well as the so called Next Eleven, which is the term used for Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey, South Korea and Vietnam.
So how have we done? Not badly but much further to go, with our exports to China up 72%, India up 74% and Russia up 100%. Congratulations are due to local companies like Strongbox Marine Furniture in Houghton Regis who have been showing the way locally with significant exports to Russia and India.
Just as we are trying to rebalance our economy with more emphasis on manufacturing, engineering and technology to get away from our over-reliance on property and financial services, so too we desperately need to trade more with the world outside Europe.
The economy of the European Union represents 19% of the world economy and yet 48% of the UK’s trade is with Europe.
The Eurozone’s problems limit the growth potential of that market for UK exporters, while African, Asian and South American economies continue to enjoy significant growth.
So what does the UK have to offer the world? Rather a lot if you look into it.
English is still the world’s business language. We have massive global brands in companies like Rolls Royce, Vodafone and BP. We have one of the largest and most diverse creative sectors in the world. We have a trade surplus in cars.
GSK and Astra Zeneca are global pharmaceutical leaders. Four of the top ten universities in the world are in the UK.
We have world leading law and management consultancy firms. Our defence industry is second only to the USA.
We have one of the largest aerospace sectors in the world. Our space industry is growing strongly; we have global leading oil and gas companies and a strongly growing green economy too.
Having fallen down the league table, the UK is now back in the top ten of the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness ratings.
Locally it is good to see companies like Grundfos revamping their national head office and increasing UK sales by 10% this year.
I do know it is still tough as we deal with our deficit (now cut by a quarter), a commodity price shock and a stalled Eurozone, but there are reasons to be cheerful too.
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 7 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North