Theresa Might is visiting China to strengthen enterprise ties between the 2 international locations this week, however are British manufacturers nonetheless valued abroad?
For BBC 5 Live’s Afternoon Edition, Nihal Arthanayake and Sarah Brett have been assembly companies throughout the UK to find extra about their place on this planet.
From tech start-ups within the Metropolis of London to established meals processing companies like Tate and Lyle, the present toured the nation taking a look at whether or not Made in Britain is a model that provides worth to the products and companies the UK exports.
Shoemakers Grenson, in Northampton, promote high-end sneakers to each home and worldwide markets. They have been making sneakers within the East Midlands for 150 years however have needed to transfer with the instances.
“The corporate had tried to depend on the truth that it was ‘made in England’ and it didn’t realise that it needed to be a contemporary enterprise,” says managing director Tim Litte.
“The craft of constructing sneakers was intact however an enormous a part of it was telling the story of the corporate.”
‘Heritage has worth’
Gloucestershire-based engineers Renishaw make industrial measuring gear. It was hit onerous like many by the worldwide recession in 2008, however since 2009 then has seen its orders strongly rebound.
In 2011 it purchased a former Bosch manufacturing unit in South Wales and it now employs 350 individuals and exports the world over.
“Manufacturing is not only about making issues, we’re providing a report 50 apprenticeships this 12 months in extremely expert areas,” says Renishaw’s Chris Pockett
Many companies say that it is typically expertise that decide the worth of the “Made in Britain” model. In different phrases, heritage has a worth however provided that services are in demand.
Former CBI director normal, Lord Digby Jones, says: “We can not compete on worth, our function on this planet relies upon colleges, college students.
“We bossed the 19th Century, it was Britain’s time; America bossed the 20th Century – the 21st Century belongs to Asia, in the event you take a look at it in a worldwide method.
“You may solely the drive the financial system on promote on the standard of what you do to markets that need it and also you want expert individuals to try this.”
Abilities in demand
On the so-called Silicon Roundabout in east London, Simon Hay runs Flyfire, a tech start-up specialising in training. He says demand for expert expertise is big.
“We’re all working in a worldwide market place. We’re competing with one another for high expertise, who can select the place they need to reside and work – cities and international locations are having to combat onerous for them”.
Simon began the enterprise from scratch and it now operates in 35 totally different international locations the world over: “As we change into extra world the place you staff is predicated turns into much less of a difficulty.”
Commerce and export minister Rona Fairhead says that “we now have plenty of expertise that I’ve seen as I’ve gone up and down the UK that actually are in demand elsewhere on this planet”.
She provides: “What I’ve seen within the months that I’ve been on this function is actual power within the UK to export and actual urge for food from international locations world wide to purchase British.”
In fact the background to discovering how properly British services will promote throughout the globe is Brexit. There can be new challenges and alternatives for the UK.
The place as soon as the European Union Fee negotiated commerce offers on behalf of the UK and the remainder of the member states, UK commerce coverage will now be the accountability of the federal government.
Which implies in negotiations with international locations for brand new offers decisions need to be made.
One space of concern is meals requirements.
Within the autumn the US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross recommended commerce cope with Washington would hinge on the UK altering its guidelines on accepting chlorine-washed US hen.
However the authorities says it has been clear on this: “There is no such thing as a expectation that we are going to be compelled to decrease meals requirements,” says Baroness Fairhead.
“In reality, the federal government has been actually clear that we now have raised the bar on meals requirements and we’re completely going to keep up these requirements.”
For one of many UK’s oldest manufacturers, the sugar cane refiner Tate and Lyle, Brexit can not come quickly sufficient.
Gerald Mason, who runs Europe’s greatest sugar refinery on the banks of the Thames subsequent to London Metropolis Airports, says UK meals coverage goes to be one of the vital difficult elements of the Brexit talks.
“You have got very excessive safety from tariffs, farming will get a big proportion of earnings from funds of the EU, the federal government have gotten it proper, designing a meals coverage that’s proper for the UK and never the common EU member state.”
However while the federal government highlights the advantages of buying and selling with Britain as soon as it has left the European Union subsequent 12 months, the problem for a lot of firms trying to do enterprise with the UK just isn’t the potential for fulfillment, however the lack of certainty on what the brand new guidelines can be.
Adam Mansell, chief govt of the UK style and Textile Affiliation says “we now have concrete examples of individuals not putting orders with UK firms as a result of they have no idea what the longer term perhaps”.
As Theresa Might and President Xi Jinping sit down for talks seen as essential for the way forward for the UK financial system, it’s clear from the companies that Afternoon Version has spoken to that “model UK” does rely – however provided that the services or products are in demand.
Tim Little from shoemakers Grenson sums up many UK companies strategy to the longer term: “We are going to it make it work,” he says.