A beefed up role for a trade minister with a seat in the cabinet to coordinate and boost UK exports – a central plank of a new report on delivering an export-led recovery – has been welcomed by Unite.
Unite echoes the call for a revolution in export culture to boost manufacturing outlined in today’s (April 8) Cole Commission interim report – Turning the dial on UK Exports – chaired by Agusta Westland CEO, Graham Cole.
“We welcome the idea of a minister for trade with a seat in the cabinet, and a unified UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and UK Export Finance (UKEF),” said Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke.
“Basically, we need a trade minister in the cabinet to boost and coordinate the UK’s export efforts. We need a revolution in our export culture, and the UK and its companies have to be in it for the long haul,” he added.
“This should be coupled with specialist support for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the supply chain to get into exporting goods through ‘one stop shops’.
“We welcome the commission’s report, as it makes clear that to ensure sustained growth we have to focus on exporting more of our manufactured goods.
“As the report says, we are trading in a different world, and the current system in the UK is too complex and too fragmented.
Burke praised the report for favouring support for the domestic supply chain which would re-shore jobs, something that’s happened in the automotive and aerospace industries but which Unite has long argued must be extended.
“We also welcome the idea of a mandatory export plan for all public procurements,” he added.
“The interim report is timely as it is a reminder that membership of the European Union will help us achieve many of these objectives – unlike the Tories and Ukip who will be fighting like rats in a sack over EU membership, while our chances go by,” Burke argued, echoing views he expressed in a previous UniteLive comment piece published last week.
“It also reminds us that the UK needs a ‘joined up’ industrial and export strategy – something the Tories have singularly failed to achieve,” he went on to say.
The report – commissioned by Labour’s Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna – sets out a plan for the UK to “re-balance our economy through an export-led recovery”. Unite gave evidence to the Cole Commission on the need for manufacturing to be at the heart of the economy.