Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
4:30 AM 24th November 2021

How Learning Lessons Of The Past Can Give US Confidence For The Future – CBI President

Lord Bilimoria, CBI President, CBE, DL
Lord Bilimoria, CBI President, CBE, DL
‘The UK can look forward to a more confident global future by championing collaboration and competitiveness’ CBI President Lord Bilimoria will say in a wide-ranging speech on the final day of the business group’s Annual Conference today (Wednesday).

Speaking before an invited audience of business leaders at Swansea University, crossbench peer Lord Bilimoria will highlight the UK’s vaccine success as a template for how business and government collaboration can have global impact and success.

And post COP26, Lord Bilimoria will praise the UK’s leadership on the world stage, adding that getting the right environment for businesses domestically can help attract much-needed investment leading to global exporting success.

Lord Bilimoria will also praise the role of the Department for International Trade, welcoming the government’s recent export strategy, in particular its focus on the importance of the UK’s globally competitive services sector.

On the final day of the CBI’s flagship Annual Conference – held at eight locations across the UK and sponsored by strategic partners Accenture and Hays – he will say that internationally competitive nations and regions hold the key to creating better living standards at home through higher productivity growth, as does growing trade with partners old and new.

Addressing the final day of the CBI’s Annual Conference, Lord Bilimoria, CBI President, CBE, DL, is expected to say:

“2021 was a watershed year, where the UK has been at the centre of the global stage.

“Back in May, I had the privilege as CBI president to chair the B7 summit, ahead of the UK hosting the G7.

“And I remember, the IMF’s chief economist Dr Gita Gopinath saying that a country like the UK, which would need to borrow £400bn to rescue the economy, saving businesses and jobs…

“…one of the countries with the highest levels of government support, in both absolute and per capita terms, combined with our world leading vaccination programme, would bounce back and have a strong recovery post-pandemic. And we have. But it’s been a bumpy ride.

“Labour shortages. An energy crisis. Queues at petrol pumps. Global supply chain challenges. The Pingdemic. And rising inflation, hitting 4.2% this October.

“The CBI is putting forward solutions right into the heart of government to deliver actions that make a real difference to our members – but we believe much more is needed.

“That is why the CBI has called for a COBR for Recovery – to bring business and government together to find rapid, substantive and pragmatic solutions to these issues.

“Because we know that government and business working together is so powerful.

“Just look at when the Prime Minister appointed Kate Bingham (now Dame Kate Bingham) from the private sector and empowered her to run the vaccine taskforce in May 2020.

“Working with the backing of the government, the taskforce ordered six vaccines, including the first two to be approved the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca.

“With the first vaccination less than seven months after her appointment, on 8 December 2020.”

Highlighting how collaboration at home can lead to greater competitiveness overseas, Lord Bilimoria, CBI President, CBE, DL, is expected to say:

“Over the last two years, business has stepped up in the service of the nation to tackle some of the greatest challenges of our time.

“But the question now is: how do we get past those challenges, unlock our true potential and become a Global Britain?

“It starts with being collaborative, something we must do not only regionally – as Tony Danker outlined on Monday – but internationally.

“The last two years have been a defining moment for the UK’s role on the global stage, first with B7, then G7, which fed into our hosting of COP26.

“Post-Brexit the UK must look out into the world, using its unique convening power for the global common good, as we did at COP26, and for commercial advantage.

“And here, too, the UK already plays a leading role: working in multilateral organisations, standing up for an open, rules-based world economy and developing essential cross-border solutions to some of the greatest challenges today.”

Being competitive globally means playing to our strengths, Lord Bilimoria, CBI President, CBE, DL, is expected to say how increasing investment can help:

“The UK is the most amazing country, and we must use our strengths to be competitive on the global stage.

“Here the CBI’s economic strategy – Seize the Moment – has already set out the steps we need to take to become the most competitive, future-focused economy in the world.

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay
“We are 1% of the world’s population and are the second largest services exporter in the world.

“We are 1% of the world’s population. And yet we remain one of the top destinations for inward investment.

“We are 1% of the world’s population. And we have among the best universities in the world, along with the US.

“But we cannot be complacent. Our challenge now is to create a business environment that will attract and unleash that investment. Because if we don’t, our competitors surely will.

“The recent Budget saw some small steps in the right direction, the modernisation of R&D tax reliefs to include data and cloud computing costs, and the super-deduction was also exactly the type of move the UK should be making.

“But there are big areas where we must improve. When it comes to R&D innovation, we invest 1.7% of GDP, which is low compared to Germany whose R&D expenditure was the equivalent of 3.2% of GDP in 2019, and the US where it was 3.1%.

“The government have said they want a high-wage, high-growth, high-investment, high-productivity economy. Business agrees.

“But right now, we are facing a high-tax economy – including the planned corporation tax rise from 19 to 25%.

“An increase in National Insurance by 2.5 percentage points - 1.25 percentage points for employees and 1.25 percentage points for employers.

“All the while business rates still need fundamental reform and the burden of property tax in the UK is four times higher than Germany, three times higher than the OECD average, and higher than any other G7 country.

“Together, this all adds up to the UK having the highest tax burden in 70 years.

“What we need is to stop hiking taxes and focus on boosting investment.”

Lord Bilimoria, also Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, will outline the importance of ensuring UK exporters have access to the labour and skills they need to succeed:

“CBI research shows that businesses will need to invest £130 billion over the next 10 years in reskilling.

“We have highlighted that 9 in 10 people will have to re-train or re-skill.

“We have an apprenticeship levy that needs to be far more flexible.

“We have good initiatives from the government such as the kickstart scheme which the CBI called to be extended and the government has listened.

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay
“The government has expanded Skills Boot Camps, and introduced the lifelong loan entitlement, which is wonderful.

“But the lifelong learning loans are only starting in 2025.

“And, at the CBI, we have recommended that the Government should revamp the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) by giving it a similar status to the Low Pay Commission (LPC).

“The LPC is widely acknowledged as one of the most successful public policy interventions in decades. Why? Because of the strength of its independence.

“We would add economists and businesses to the MAC’s membership, to be able to flex and independently activate the shortage occupation list so it’s responsive to economic needs.”

Lord Bilimoria, CBI President, CBE, DL, is expected to outline how increasing trade with partners old and new can contribute to the government’s vision of a high wage, high-investment, high-productivity and high-skilled economy of the future.

“The UK has always been a great trading nation.

“For nearly four decades, all our trade deals were negotiated by the European Union.

“And, over the last five years, the UK’s Department for International Trade did an incredible job.

“It signed trade agreements with 66 non-EU countries and one with the EU.

“A remarkable achievement, which many thought would be impossible.

“On top of this, the CBI, I am proud to say, has played a major role with helping with new trade agreements, such as with the UK- Australia FTA.

“This was followed by our FTA with New Zealand, and an enhanced trade partnership with India - with a target to double bilateral trade by 2030.

“Formal negotiations with India UK-FTA are starting imminently.

“So, the opportunities are huge for global Britain.

“Yet let us not forget that over 40% of the UK’s trade remains with the EU, our biggest and closest trading partner.

“Post-Brexit, we need to normalise trading relations with the EU.

“End the politicisation of trade. Work together to advance common interests.

“Let me speak plainly. Our new relationship with the EU didn’t begin smoothly for many businesses. Red tape still hampers firms today. But here again we can illustrate the gains collaboration can bring.

“By working through the Business Brexit Taskforce – a body called for by the CBI and which still exists today – we put industry in the room with government decision-makers to get things done.

“And we can now look back on weeks of intensive discussions between UK and EU negotiators on the trickiest of all topics – the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“On this topic I speak for businesses not only in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but for those around the world willing both parties to agree a compromise, allowing us to look forward, not back.

“And there is one overarching thing we must do to unlock the potential of a truly global Britain: we must harness the power of our competitive strengths on the international stage.

“We must back more UK firms of every size, sector and region and nation to go global.

“Government has already laid the foundations for this with its new Export Strategy.

“Now government must get the delivery of that strategy right, building resilience by putting small business at the heart of its work.

“And by establishing the new Trade in Services Council to amplify the success of the UK’s world-beating services industries.”

Concluding his speech, Lord Bilimoria, CBI President, CBE, DL, is expected to say:

“Throughout what I have said I hope you will see not just the challenges but the huge opportunities and amazing capabilities of our country.

“We have always punched above our weight.

“We have always been world leading, innovative and creative.

“We must continue to be collaborative and competitive.

“The motto in my business is to aspire and achieve against all odds with integrity.

“That is what we as a country will do looking ahead to the future. And most importantly we will do it not just by being the best in the world but also by being the best for the world.”