Neil Rami, Chief Executive, Marketing Birmingham, comments on the UK’s decision to leave the EU
Neil Rami, Chief Executive, Marketing Birmingham, the city’s inward investment agency, comments on the UK’s decision to leave the EU and shares his optimism for the future with a new PM in place:
While the UK has opted for a future outside the EU, Britain continues to boast a competitive, innovative and highly-skilled economy – it remains an attractive place for business.
Even so, the new government’s focus under Theresa May must now be on maintaining fiscal stability, mitigating economic slow-down and rebuilding trust across our communities.
We have seen an impact on investment confidence in the run up to the referendum, with firms holding off making decisions due to continued uncertainty.
Realistically, in the short- to medium-term, the result may continue to have consequences for our economy as investors seek clarity on post-Brexit Britain and how it will relate to the EU, single market and trading with the rest of the world.
Longer term, I believe the outlook remains positive thanks to the innate strength of the British economy and because our core foundations remain intact; a workable time zone, universal language, a transparent taxation environment and access to the best Research and Development in the world, resulting in companies still wanting to access all that the UK has to offer.
That said, it will take some time before it is clear what impact this will have on our region, our customers and international reputation.
The West Midlands has firmly established itself as the UK’s driver of growth, fostering centres of excellence in the business, professional and financial services area, and leading the country’s traditional sectors – such as manufacturing and engineering – to be among the best in Europe.
Therefore the region’s robust growth strategy, critical mass of talent, and unprecedented investment in physical infrastructure and connectivity makes it better placed than other parts of the UK – and this will put it in good stead to remain an attractive proposition for inward investment.
Nevertheless, we cannot let this momentum slow down, we need to keep attracting further investment and this will only come if we are given more control over our own destiny. Fiscal devolution must continue to be an uppermost priority for the region.
I am also heartened that much of our key infrastructure is in place and increasing cost pressures in London make Birmingham an even better location to invest.
The West Midlands Combined Authority and Midlands Engine are now established to help shape the landscape, with infrastructure plans of £8billion in place. It’s imperative that we invest now to accelerate growth – there is no other economic development alternative.
There is actually a sense of huge optimism with the public and private sectors working hand in glove like never before. The Midlands lies on the cusp of an even greater period of growth.
With major projects such as High Speed Rail (HS2) on the horizon and more than £1billion invested in the region last year alone, the city and its surrounding regions are set to attract more people and investment than ever before.
It’s clear that we still have much to look forward to. The completion of major programmes and the commitment HSBC has made to the region for the next 250 years demonstrates the city’s ability to deliver the talent, facilities and connectivity needed by global brands.
With this growth, we will see increasing opportunities for our airport as we become a cost effective option for travellers.
Additionally, foreign investors need reliable, fast and frequent access to their other international markets, particularly the manufacturing firms that continue to invest here.
A better connected airport and an ever-improving transport infrastructure also adds to the region’s unique proposition as a key investment destination.
We must also consider public sector consolidation, creating opportunities for new commercial developments.
The region’s mix of regeneration and redevelopment as well as the relatively lower entry price for property, means that its draw to homebuyers and investors will continue to grow in the coming years.
Moving forward, we need a stable government and a clear timetable – we need the new Prime Minister and Cabinet to show us strong leadership and to reassure our foreign and domestic investors that we are still open for business.
I’m confident the region will rise to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.