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Industrial Strategy White Paper: Grant Thornton comment and reaction

Chris Frostwick, practice leader of the East Midlands office of Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented:

“Local strategies are welcome, but we must do more to help British business trade globally.

“The government’s industrial strategy rightly focuses on places, people, ideas, infrastructure and collaboration in those industries where we have the most potential. What is currently missing is a plan for how we connect those places and industries to international markets and global cities. Given the UK’s ballooning trade deficit, opportunities and challenges of Brexit, widening productivity gap, and opportunities in growing overseas markets, the review of exporting strategy announced by the government today is very welcome. 

“We know from discussions with local leaders that they will welcome local strategies as an opportunity to drive better outcomes for the region, such as improving skills, raising productivity and attracting investment.

“A comprehensive export strategy that mobilises the private sector and that can be implemented quickly and effectively will be vitally important. The government is right to identify the potential for working with the private sector to provide high quality export advice and we stand ready to help in any way we can.

“However, from our discussions with clients across the East Midlands, we know that whilst they welcome this strategy, they believe certainty around Brexit is absolutely vital.

“Local businesses and industry here have been calling for a coherent strategy for some time, and if this is to address this and make the UK fit for the future, then it can only be a good thing.

“But if we are to push forward with the type of strategy outlined in the White Paper, it is critical that it is aligned with the regional strategy, such as The Midlands Engine, if it is to resonate and work locally.”

He adds: “Our discussions have also helped to identify three key ingredients for success. Firstly, creation of a true local strategy that, rather than being one-size-fits-all, is made-to-measure using local evidence and local views.  Secondly, collaboration between institutions across the country is vital to avoid mediocrity and overcome inertia. Finally, there is a need to invest in the next-generation to ensure that future local leaders have the right skills, perspective and networks to deliver success.”

“Over the last eighteen months we have been talking to people from all parts of our economy and society about the role everyone can play in shaping a vibrant economy.  We found that people from different sectors and places have a common vision of an inclusive economy – one that is collaborative, open, connected and prosperous.

“To make this vision a reality, there is an urgent need for the Industrial Strategy to not only think locally, but to act globally.” 

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