A blueprint to reverse Britain’s chronic trade deficit and kick-start an energetic export drive was welcomed by Unite, the country’s largest union, today (Wednesday 24 June).
The Cole Commission on Exports – an Action Plan from business - chaired by AgustaWestland chairman, Graham Cole - called for cabinet-level political leadership to co-ordinate a strategy for exports to rebalance the economy away from debt-fuelled consumer spending.
The new Tory government has appointed Lord Maude as minister of state for trade and investment, whose portfolio straddles both the Foreign Office and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.
Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said that Lord Maude should rise to the challenges in the Cole report and ‘start banging heads together’.
Tony Burke said: “While there has been a renaissance in UK manufacturing, particularly in the automotive industry, we still have a serious trade deficit.
“The Cole report is an important stepping stone in constructing a strategy to rebalance the economy away from the City and the service sector; and boosting exports.
“With the election out of the way, ministers must focus strongly on the report’s recommendations, such as a unified body embracing UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and UK Export Finance (UKEF).
“The government has gone some way to achieving this with Lord Maude’s appointment taking in the Foreign Office and the business department. We hope he starts banging heads together, taking into account the positive measures outlined in the Cole report.
“We are trading in a fast moving, globalised world, and the current system in the UK is too complex and too fragmented. Other countries, such as Germany, are much better at pulling all the relevant strands - government, business and the unions - together for a vibrant export strategy.
“This should be coupled with specialist support for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the supply chain to get into exporting goods through ‘one stop shops’.
“In a nutshell, we need the government to commit to a manufacturing strategy and for exports to be central to such a strategy.”
The report - commissioned by Labour’s Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna - sets out an export plan for the UK. Unite gave evidence to the Cole Commission, on the need for manufacturing to be at the heart of the economy.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.
Download the Cole plan report.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.