There’s a mood of stability and confidence coming out of the UK. There’s more certainty over the Brexit process, with a bill going through Parliament that will give the Prime Minister the authority to trigger Article 50 and launch the UK’s EU exit negotiations in time for the Prime Minister’s own deadline of the end of March. There’s more clarity over what the UK wants from Brexit, with the publication of the 12 principles that will guide the Government’s negotiating strategy, including control of immigration, freedom from the European Court of Justice, frictionless trade in goods and services between the UK and the Single Market, and ambitious trade deals with other countries. And there’s optimism from the continued strength of the UK economy. As UK Chancellor Philip Hammond explained in his Spring Budget on 8 March, the UK’s economy grew 1.8% last year – the second fastest of all major developed economies – and is forecast to be even stronger this year, at 2%. Unemployment remains low, employment is at a record high of 74.6%, and corporate tax will be 19% from this April, en route to 17% by 2020. We continue to see major investments in the UK. Amazon and Boeing are amongst those who’ve announced new investments in the UK this year that will support their global growth.
Our relationship with the new US Administration has got off to a strong start, with Prime Minister May’s first meeting with President Trump in Washington DC in January, their commitments to ensuring the strength of NATO, and ambitions for a UK-US trade agreement once the UK has left the EU, commensurate with the UK’s vision of a global Britain and to be a beacon of free trade.
We were able to have a similar conversation about global Britain, Brexit and free trade with Seattle’s business leaders when the UK’s Minister for International Trade Greg Hands MP visited Seattle in January. We’ll continue to keep the Seattle business community up to speed with major developments. One of the next opportunities for that is when my Department for International Trade (DIT) colleagues come up to Seattle on 20-22 March, bringing with them all of their expertise on the UK’s aerospace, tech, life sciences and energy sectors. They’ll be joined by some newly promoted and recruited colleagues: Glen Delaney (covering tech, based in San Francisco), Pauline Wood (covering aerospace, based in Los Angeles) and Jessica Prusakowski (covering financial and professional business services, based in Los Angeles). Do let me know if you’d like to meet with them while they’re here.
And finally, this week the British Embassy in Washington released a US-UK Trade & Investment Highlights report showing the economic benefits of trade and investment between the UK and the US, broken down by each state. Washington State exports $5.1bn in goods and services to the UK, directly supporting 22,300 jobs in the state. And 191 UK companies are employing over 18,100 workers in the state. The details are here.
Consul (Business & Government Affairs)
UK Government Office, Seattle