Brexit - next exit sign

CHICAGO – Dr. Liam Fox, the U.K.’s secretary of state and minister of international trade made a surprise appearance at the Sage Summit to tell the IT press about life after Brexit.

“The U.K. is open for business like never before,” he said.

However, the British Conservative Minister of Parliament for North Somerset admitted that last month’s Brexit was a life altering moment and deeply transformative for his country. But moving forward it will give the U.K. an opportunity to be a global trading nation again.

“The British people made a brave decision to take back control of our destiny and with a new Prime Minister (Theresa May) on board there will be no back tracking; there will be no second referendum,” he said.

Fox outlined three reasons for the historic Brexit decision:
1. To make investment in the U.K. more attractive. Since 2010 Fox revealed that more than 300,000 new jobs have been created by new companies of which some are in the IT sector.
2. His government believes investment levels will increase, more than expected after they leave the EU because of its skilled workforce. As an example, Fox cited that the North Eastern region of England exports more cars that Italy.
3. Corporate tax rates can be lowered even further after they officially leave the EU in two years’ time.

In terms of the IT sector the U.K. currently spends more than US$7 billion in research and development and Fox said IT is an example of the type of open trade the U.K. is looking to do after Brexit.

“None of these element is dependent on the EU. The U.K. so is attractive because we are English speaking and the time zone means we can work with North Americans and with businesses out east. And, investments keep flowing most recently the US$24 billion investment by Japan’s Softbank (ARM acquisition) as a future hub is one example of our stability of trade,” Fox said.

Brexit ushers in a new era for the U.K. to now take account of changing patterns of trade across the globe with multi-lateral agreements such as Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which includes Canada as part of an investment pact with the EU.

Fox told IT World Canada that he met with Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau last week. After speaking with Morneau, he is committed to supporting CETA and is strongly considering opening up U.K. trade offices in Canada.

“Sometimes I get tired of hearing about North America only being about the U.S. Canada is in there too,” he said.

Fox added that it’s important to note of the top 10 export markets where the U.K. has a trade surplus only one is in the EU, while the U.K. holds trade deficits with seven members of the EU.
By exiting the EU Fox said it gives his country an opportunity to expand into new markets. Fox added that of the 70 billion pounds worth of goods and services now with the EU their plan is to create minimum disruption.

A major part of the U.K.’s new trade missions will involve IT and Fox said this sector will lead to economic success because the whole industry is changing to become more agile. In comparison to the EU, IT is considered a market the U.K. is interested in exploring rather than the geography approximate type of markets such as the EU.

“We want to make geography blocks less relevant. We are leaving the EU as a method to regain control of our trade policy with the rest of the world. We believe this will make the tax system more competitive and eliminate the red tape,” he added.

Fox announced at the Sage Summit that the U.K. is opening up three new trade offices in the U.S. to boost trade and investment, while strengthening economic and political ties. “We are building a model that works well already in cities such as Denver and Seattle where 8 million pounds of capital investment creating more than 1,000 U.K. jobs,” he said.



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