Secretary of State, Liz Truss MP, and Sir John Peace hold international trade discussion with over 70 Midlands businesses

Date posted: June 5, 2020

Midlands Engine Chairman, Sir John Peace, has today chaired a discussion on international trade with the Secretary of State, Liz Truss MP, and over 70 businesses from across the region with international trade interests.

International trade activity in the Midlands has generated £90 billion for the UK economy and the region is responsible for a quarter of England’s exports. Today’s virtual roundtable was a fantastic opportunity to provide the Secretary of State with valuable regional insight from Midlands SMEs; enabling them to engage directly with the Government about the barriers to trade that they face and the benefits they could see from future trade agreements.

Liz Truss - Secretary of State TweetBefore fielding a series of questions from Midlands SMEs about the opportunities and challenges of forthcoming trade agreements, the Secretary of State, Liz Truss MP, stressed the importance of the Midlands, as an exporting engine, to the success of the overall UK approach to international trade, and the critical role of SMEs in that approach.

The Midlands Engine Economic Observatory’s regular Covid-19 analysis has shown that the region’s economy is being hard hit by the adverse impacts of the pandemic; with overall business activity and turnover down and unemployment rising. International trade is a core strength of the Midlands, so future trade agreements with Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the USA need to work effectively for Midlands businesses, as a key means by which the regional economy will be rebuilt.

As Sir John Peace illustrated in the meeting:

The USA is a key market for the Midlands economy – with one in five exports from our region being to this market – so the Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated is vital for our region and an opportunity for even more trade with the USA in the future.

Today’s meeting has enabled Midlands SMEs to provide the Secretary of State with valuable regional insights. By continuing to engage with the Government in this way, we can collectively help shape those future trade agreements to work powerfully for our region.

The Midlands SMEs who participated in today’s meeting were drawn from a wide range of sectors, including life sciences; automotive; manufacturing; and pharmaceuticals.

Commenting on the meeting, Chief Executive of Warwick Music Limited, Steven Greenall, said:

Being able to take your concerns as a Midlands business owner to the heart of government is vital. Today’s call with the Secretary of State enabled us to talk directly and frankly about the opportunities and challenges of the forthcoming trade deal with the United States. It is clear that government is listening!


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