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Economy Economy

Make Welsh businesses central to our new trade and export policies

Last updated: 03:01pm 8 December 2019

Welsh businesses will be central to our new trade and export policies, and our investment in improved infrastructure will help Welsh companies benefit even more from the UK single market than they do now.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.33

Our verdict

According to Office for National Statistics estimates, in 2017 Wales was the region with the lowest rate of economic growth in the UK. Moreover, Wales accounts for a small proportion of the total GDP, at about 3%, and has low employment and low average wages. This is a pledge to make Welsh business central to  UK trade and export policies.

In December 2018, the government updated its new Trade Bill. We found nothing in the text of the bill, which failed to complete its passage through Parliament, nor in government explanations of its purpose, to indicate that Wales or Welsh business was of central importance.

In August 2018, the government published its Export Strategy policy paper, which pointed out that Welsh businesses were already eligible for funds from UK Export Finance, through the Export Working Capital Scheme and the Bond Support Scheme. The devolved administrations’ trade and investing agencies are responsible for specific programmes, but the government reaffirmed its commitment to work with them on joint activities, information sharing and support.

The government made no specific provision for Wales in the Trade Bill it put forward, and has provided only minimal attention to Wales in its Export Strategy. There has been no policy reversal here, but there’s very little evidence of efforts to keep this promise, so this policy is ‘not started’.

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