IoD Week in Policy 25 – 29 September 2023

Parliament has been off this week as the run up to the party conferences ensues. It’s an exciting time, and particularly this year, with the Conservatives and Labour parties vying to showcase their eligibility for leadership ahead of the upcoming general election. We also mustn’t forget the Liberal Democrats hosted their gig in Bournemouth at the start of this week, where leader Ed Davey vowed to bring the Blue Wall seats tumbling down…

Meanwhile, our week has been busy, and apparently full of trade and train policy.

Tricks of the green trade – This week we co-hosted a roundtable with the Dutch Embassy to discuss how businesses can start exporting more sustainably. The sustainable agenda is one of the most critical issues businesses face today, only made harder when considering the international trade angle. Sending goods all over the world by air or sea isn’t exactly ‘green’. We assessed what the challenges and opportunities are, the funding problem, and the role public-private partnerships have to play.

Aiming higher – Number two on the exports agenda: how can the government most effectively measure annual exports to hold itself to account on growth? We are calling on the government to aim higher – the current target of £1 trillion exports by 2030 in current prices is not sufficiently stretching. We want them to set a target which removes the impact of inflation, and which holds them to account on the proportion of businesses exporting across all regions of the UK. We were pleased to see a write-up of our ideas in the FT’s newsletter, Britain after Brexit.

Trading places – On the flip side, businesses are thinking much more about imports as the geopolitical environment is back in the hotseat. Many firms are beginning to reorient supply chains away from China as its position towards Taiwan remains uncertain and relations between Washington and Beijing are somewhat on the rocks. We wrote a paper on how this is impacting our membership here, and contributed to the debate in the Financial Times here.

HS2 be or not to be? – There is new speculation about further reductions to the HS2 project. Designed to make journeys between London and the North much speedier, the project has so far caused more trouble than travel, in light of concerns over the exact route it will take and its growing expense. We’d be more shocked if it wasn’t currently the norm that UK trains are delayed, cancelled, and cost an arm and leg.

Next week… 

We are looking forward to attending the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Our Director General will be speaking at a fringe event, “Innovation and Inclusivity? The changing world of work” on the Monday. Look out for us there, or on socials during the start of the week!

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