Two days before the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the UK's international trade secretary, Dr Liam Fox, announced the launch a new digital tool to promote more than £30bn- ($43bn)-worth of FDI opportunities aimed at driving growth across the country.
The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) said the online portfolio portal – called UK Invest – would be hosted on GREAT.gov.uk and will provide a speedy, hassle-free signpost for international investors looking to gain access to or grow their existing holdings in the UK economy. The initiative, set to launch in the coming weeks, will publicise more than 60 FDI opportunities across the country.
“UK Invest will work with every part of the UK to identify investment opportunities, and ensure the strong appetite for investing in the UK generates prosperity and jobs in every part of the country”, said Mr Fox.
The announcement came three days before the start of CHOGM, which runs between April 16 and April 20. The week-long summit, held in London, is expected to attract leaders from 53 commonwealth countries, alongside about 5000 participants from government, business and civil society. Commonwealth countries export more than $3000bn in goods and services each year.
In an interview before CHOGM, Roberto Azevedo, the director-general of the World Trade Organization, urged Commonwealth countries to better facilitate poverty-reducing trade through increased investment, especially in infrastructure. “For example, Africa’s infrastructure investment needs are estimated at about $120bn to $150bn annually – with a financing gap of about $60bn to $80bn per year. In the Asia and Pacific region, infrastructure needs to the year 2030 are estimated to exceed $22,600bn,” he added.
The DIT’s announcement also followed statistics released in mid-April by the Office for National Statistics which reveal that UK exports rose 10.4% to £627.6bn between March 2017 and the end of February 2018, with increases in both goods and services and a £12.9bn reduction in the trade deficit.
A new report from HSBC also stated that the export boom looks set to continue in the coming years, predicting that the value of UK exports of goods and services will rise by 22% by 2020, and double by 2030.
DIT is the focal point for foreign investment capability across the UK government, and it claims to have attracted a record 2265 FDI projects in 2016/17, up 2% on the previous year - which is estimated to have created or safeguarded more than 108,000 jobs.