UK Must Trade Its Way Out of Economic Woes, Says Lord Digby Jones
As public sector cuts and concerns about inflation continue in the UK, former Minister of State for Trade Investment, Lord Digby Jones, has stressed that the best way for Britain to solve its economic problems is through trade. With business being the only source of tax revenue in the UK, Jones stated that increasing trade will create jobs and tax in the private sector, which will have a knock-on effect into the public sector.
Speaking at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) recent Sir Henry Royce Memorial Lecture at IET London: Savoy Place, Jones suggested that as economies such as those in China and Brazil continue to grow, the UK risks being left behind permanently. He suggested that as disposable income grows across the world, Britain must increase its manufacturing presence in aspirational goods to capitalise on this opportunity. He went on to emphasise that skilling people properly will be key to this, citing the importance of apprenticeships and increasing their availability.
However, Jones did also stress the need for support from all sides to encourage this growth in skills, manufacturing and business. “The attitude of the media to business must change as we need them to help young people realise that a career in manufacturing is viable and sustainable,” said Jones. “Instead of just reporting problems with UK business, such as when redundancies are made, the media should be championing our manufacturing and business successes much more.”
The need to rebalance the UK economy was also a major theme of the lecture. With financial services accounting for around 12-13% of the UK’s entire tax take, Jones suggested that the key was not to drive financial services away but to grow other British industry sectors, particularly manufacturing, given the vast opportunity for the sale of goods globally.
“However, it’s clear that Britain cannot compete with other nations on the production of price-based commodities, so the focus must be on innovation and aspirational goods. This is where up-skilling is needed,” continued Jones. “Without skills we cannot exploit globalisation or really have a truly cohesive society.”
Jones went on to identify some key steps that the UK and EU must look to take to develop the necessary skill-sets for manufacturing and business growth as well as diverting cash back into the economy: