Business priorities 'transcend politics'

WEALTH creation should transcend party politics, a former Government Minister and director general of the CBI told a Suffolk conference on international trade.

WEALTH creation should transcend party politics, a former Government Minister and director general of the CBI told a Suffolk conference on international trade.

Speaking at the East of England International's Global Opportunity conference at Newmarket last week, Lord Digby Jones said the political row should be about how to spend the tax it creates.

The nation needed to understand that “business, making money, is the only generator of tax revenue”, he told more than 240 business leaders from across the region on Thursday , and the only way Britain was going to get out of the downturn was to trade its way out of it.

“I believe that the factionalism of party politics is one of the most damaging things to wealth creation. If you want to have a party political row have one about how you spend it,” Lord Jones told delegates during a speech peppered with humorous anecdotes about his time as Minister of UK Trade & Investment under Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“The baking of the pie, the creation of wealth in a country, should transcend the factionalism of party politics. It should have not anything to do with it and at the end of the day when will it be that any government ever, of any party, ever understands that without you, my friends, this nation would not have one penny of taxation? You see, business, the pursuit of profit, is the only element in our society that creates wealth.”

He argued that by exposing their businesses to overseas competition, firms here were making themselves “more productive, more competitive and more innovative”. That improved their performance in home markets and made them “more resilient” in coping with today's challenges. Firms needed to look at markets overseas and seize the business opportunities within countries such as China and India.

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“I just wish that educationists and environmentalist and trades unionists and journalists and especially politicians understood that fact, especially right now because the only way this great nation of ours is going to get out of this economic mess is trade its way out of it and that means generate the dosh, pay the tax and sort it out,” he said.

“If we really get this nation going it's got to understand that business, making money, is the only generator of tax revenue.”

Lord Jones, who is chairman of HSBC's International Business Advisory Board, said key opportunities for UK business included China with a potential market of 1.3bn people who were becoming increasingly prosperous, India which has a society and culture suited to UK enterprises and the Middle East which admired British business and wants to buy from us. The 27 nations of the EU and the UK's biggest trading partner, the USA, were other regions to exploit, he said.

Also speaking at the event was HSBC's chief economist, Mark Berresford-Smith, who gave an upbeat view on the economy and also encouraging business to explore overseas markets, and David Evans, chairman and chief executive of Hertfordshire-based business performance consultancy firm Grass Roots Group plc who spoke about how he grew his business from a basement operation to a global company employing over 1,000 around the world.

Three East Anglian firms were presented with UKTI Passport to Export International Trade Awards for their success in selling overseas.

The Passport to Export Award for Best New Exporter 2009 went to Cambridge-based fashion retailer Supreme Being which has grown their business to a �4million turnover by exporting to over 20 countries.

The Gateway to Global Growth Award for the Best Established Exporter 2009 was presented to Syrris Ltd. which develops productivity tools for chemists and is based in Royston, Hertfordshire;

The Export Communications Review Award for the Most Effective International Communication went to Le Mark Group in Huntingdon for delivering a highly effective integrated marketing programme aimed at their overseas customers.

Syrris Ltd. went on to win the UKTI Most Outstanding Export Achievement award which was presented by Lord Digby Jones and Vic Annells,

Chief executive of East of England International, David Riches, said: “We're delighted that we had such a high level of interest in the event which is a true measure of the importance businesses across the region are attaching to exporting. Last year we saw a 3.8% increase in the number of businesses starting to export and so far this year exports from this region have exceeded �20bn.”

Delegates at the conference were also able to hold one-to-one meetings with UKTI commercial officers and market specialists from 14 different countries around the world and these proved particularly popular with around 150 meetings taking place during the day. In the afternoon, breakout sessions allowed delegates to hear first hand from specialists on how to go about exporting to countries such as the USA, Europe, Middle East and Brazil, as well as sessions focusing on exporting for specific industry sectors such as food and drink, life sciences, renewable energy and digital media.