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House of Commons Hansard
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Foreign Direct Investment
15 December 2016
Volume 618
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1. What steps his Department is taking to support foreign direct investment into the UK. [907889]

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My Department is working globally to attract foreign firms to set up or expand their businesses in the UK and to generate new jobs and contribute to national wealth creation. We are promoting the UK as a prime destination for inward investment from across our global network, with dedicated support for investors in 50 overseas markets. With the support of sector specialists, we are ensuring that the UK has the best opportunities to attract higher-quality foreign direct investment.

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Latest gross value added figures show that Wales is the fastest growing area outside London, and Cardiff is unabashedly the engine room of the Welsh economy. What positive steps is the Department taking to ensure that Welsh businesses and Cardiff businesses get the help they expect to get?

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Let me say that my hon. Friend, given that his constituency is Cardiff North, is the engine-room of the Cardiff economy. The Department for International Trade works for the whole of the UK, but I stress that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already visited Wales, and I am working with the Wales Office to see what more we can do. We also support the Welsh Government by offering them support in posts overseas. We see the opportunities presented by Wales as very exciting.

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Today we are told that it could take up to 10 years to reach a trade agreement with the EU after we leave, while research from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research suggests a drop in trade of up to 60% if we are outside the customs union. Foreign investors are vital for the British economy, so will the Minister give those investors some of the certainty they so desperately need—and that we need, as well? Will he tell them whether he wants Britain to be inside the customs union and whether he wants tariff-free access to the single market or not?

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It has been made very clear that the Government are not going to give a running commentary on what we are proposing to do. I also stress that the comments of Ivan Rogers are opinions and words taken from interlocutors and do not necessarily define how long it will take to create a trade deal. It is worth bearing in mind, if we look at various trade deals around the world, that while the Trans-Pacific Partnership has taken potentially eight years, the US-Jordan trade deal took just four months. It is very difficult to establish exactly how long any trade deal will take.

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As the UK becomes a world leader in the fourth industrial revolution—new technology—will the Minister update the House on what steps his Department is taking to secure foreign direct investment in this vital new sector?

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I congratulate my hon. Friend on launching the all-party parliamentary group on the fourth industrial revolution. This type of innovative approach by businesses moving forward is incredibly important to the success of this country’s economy. We are working extraordinarily hard to make sure that this innovative approach is being transmitted around the world through our posts overseas, and that we can secure foreign direct investment to support it.

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What is the Minister’s best estimate on when an EU trade deal will be completed?

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I refer the hon. Gentleman to my earlier answer.