Robert Jenrick says economy bounce back is ‘good news’
The Confederation of British Industry today insists thousands of innovative home-grown firms will be the “beacon which guides us from the gloom” of the coronavirus pandemic. CBI President Lord Bilimoria says: “We can rebuild, and rebuild quickly.” And in another upbeat New Year message, Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena tells the Daily Express the post-Brexit UK can become “a dynamic trading superpower” by slashing red tape and backing the country’s exporters.
“Global Britain is here, and she is here to stay,” he said.
The senior figures in business and the Government set their sights on a rapid bounceback from economic doldrums left by the coronavirus lockdowns in exclusive articles for today’s Daily Express.
Lord Bilimoria, the chairman of Cobra Beer, predicted that the country’s economy will be rebuilt “not simply by restoring a more normal way of life, but by forging something new – a society which is better, fairer and more sustainable.”
The Crossbench peer wrote: “I believe British businesses can – and will – be at the forefront of that rebuilding.
Brexit news: The UK is set to rebuild its economy in 2021
“They say it is always darkest before the dawn – and the dawn is coming.
“I believe UK industry can be the beacon which guides us from the gloom as we look to rebuild our economy in a way which delivers long-term prosperity for us all.”
The CBI, which represents 190,000 businesses employing seven million people, today publishes a fiercely upbeat forecast for the year ahead after the UK economy suffered its worst 12-months in more than 300 years.
Business is continuing to take a battering with the majority of England under the tightest regional coronavirus restrictions.
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Thousands of innovative home-grown firms will be the “beacon which guides us from the gloom”
But following the signing of Boris Johnson’s EU trade deal, the CBI says businesses now have the clarity to drive growth forward.
It said British business was “like a coiled spring ready to release ambition and investment – they just need a chance”.
The CBI said the rapid rollout of Covid vaccines would allow consumer spending to rocket as earnings recovered. This is likely from the middle of the year.
It said a 6% rate of growth in GDP this year would slip back to 5.2% in 2022 after the Government’s pandemic support programmes were withdrawn.
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But the respected organisation said Business investment slumped by 17.5% last year. It is set for a further small fall of -0.6% this year before rebounding by 9.3% in 2022, the CBI said.
Lord Bilimoria added: “The UK is entering not just a new year, but a new world; a world in the grip of a pandemic, where long-standing relationships are changing and a recession has taken hold.
“Yet while challenges ahead of us are significant, they are not insurmountable. I see plenty of reasons for optimism. We can rebuild, and rebuild quickly, and do it not simply by restoring a more normal way of life, but by forging something new. A society which is better, fairer and more sustainable. I believe British businesses can – and will – be at the forefront of that rebuilding.
“Businesses have proven they have what it takes. UK firms of all shapes and sizes, operating across myriad industries, have shown astounding ingenuity and creativity to meet the crises of 2020 head-on. They have revamped working methods, launched new product lines, invented innovative routes to market. Measures implemented initially to ensure survival, which can now deliver meaningful long-term gains in equality, employee welfare and the environment.
The UK has already signed various trade deals away from the EU
“Throughout this crisis, business leaders have retained an eye on the bigger picture; they have taken their duty of care to employees to new levels, and reaffirmed their commitments to diversity, opportunity and climate change. They are primed and ready to help build a better Britain.”
In a separate article for today’s Daily Express, Trade Minister Mr Jayawardena was similarly optimistic about the potential for business growth this year.
“With the ingenuity, resilience and determination of our businesses, and the support we are putting in place, I am confident that Britain’s future is great,” he wrote.
Mr Jayawardena said the Government had defied the “doubters, doomsters and gloomsters” by agreeing trade deals with 63 countries as well as the Prime Minister’s historic accord with Brussels.
The UK’s transition period with the EU officially ended yesterday
Ministers aimed to support small and medium-sized employees (SMEs) by negotiating specific clauses to promote their products in trade deals.
“This people’s government is particularly keen to support SMEs in their endeavours, so that they can use their agility to benefit Britain, as Britain uses her agility to benefit them.
“That’s why we’re negotiating specific SME chapters in our future trade deals,” he said.
Mr Jayawardena promised the Government would help Britain regain “her buccaneering belief as a dynamic trading superpower with a red-tape -slashing spirit and cutting-edge trade support.”
The UK already has plans to rebuild its economy away from the EU
He added: “Global Britain is here, and she is here to stay – a Global Britain who stands tall as a fierce champion of the free and fair, rules-based, international trade system, that not only gives us the weapons to fight this pandemic but will be the key to our future prosperity.”
A Treasury spokesman said: “As the Chancellor has set out, there will be tough days and months ahead, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our unprecedented support for jobs and businesses across the UK in the form of our £280billion economic support package and Plan for Jobs puts us in a strong position to rebuild after the pandemic.
“This investment combined with the early roll-out of a vaccine, and the free trade-deal the Prime Minister has negotiated with the EU means we will benefit from our newfound freedom and autonomy – and can look ahead to a brighter future for the economy and the country.
“Whether it be new roads or rail connecting our towns and cities, leading the world in creating green jobs, working with businesses to unlock new investment or creating freeports right across the UK, we are fully committed to uniting and levelling up to ensure opportunity for all in the New Year.”