Opinion: Good news from the global community

Jack Simpson, training and global network adviser at the North East England Chamber of Commerce shares his views on the global outlook

Shall we talk about something other than Coronavirus and maybe be a bit optimistic?

There is at least some good news from the global community, as it posted strong trading figures for 2019. Exports valued £13.2bn in 2020, though this was a small increase of 0.7% from 2018, it’s still an increase, and hey, we could all do with some positive statistics.

Unsurprisingly our closest market continues to be our top market, with the European Union receiving 59.6% of North East exports, but there was a 11% rise in export value to Middle Eastern and North American markets.

It is always a source of happiness to see our little corner of the world perform so well in a year dominated by trade spats and wars, and our regional growth once again outperforming the national average.

Looking to the year ahead, it is obviously one of great uncertainty for global trade. Not just the virus outbreak, but US election, and the small matter of the UK leaving the European Union, there will be a global contraction in economic activity and growth.

But this presents a challenge for what we should, and will, aim to get back.

While we must respect the current restrictions so that we can return to the norm as soon as possible, policy makers should be looking at how we can best reignite the UK’s global engine.

As the world will be collectively resetting the economy, this is a great chance for us to live up to the name of Global Britain. Through our network of global Chambers, we are keeping our international connections alive and have heard there is still an appetite for British business across the world.

Government should utilise overseas partners to source opportunities and help organisations promote them to the wider business community, while broadening trade and market access support will help new exporters or sectors to kickstart their global plans.

Ultimately, to restore business confidence, we need to reduce the burden of risk, to a point that the business can focus on selling their product and only worry about their luggage arriving. The data shows that the more global a business is, the more innovative, diverse and profitable it becomes.

While it may be natural to look internally after a global crisis, history shows the most successful recoveries are made by those who look beyond their own horizons, in all ways.