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Foreign Direct Investment

Volume 657: debated on Wednesday 3 April 2019

Last year, over 3,000 jobs came to Wales through foreign direct investment, through 57 projects, of which 93% were supported by my Department and the Department for International Trade.

Given the recent showcasing of the Welsh investment portfolio at the MIPIM conference, what steps is the Secretary of State taking to try to lever further foreign direct investment into Wales, in what is undoubtedly a key nation in the global economy?

My hon. Friend is a strong advocate for foreign direct investment in his constituency and in all parts. He rightly points out that the Department for International Trade promoted a Wales capital investment programme at the MIPIM conference for the first time. That is a great demonstration of Whitehall Departments working closely with local authorities. There has been extremely positive feedback from both local authorities and investors, and we are working through those leads to see which projects can land.

Not only would no deal have an impact on foreign direct investment; it would also, on the Government’s own figures, leave the Welsh economy 8% smaller over 15 years. Can the Secretary of State clear up any ambiguity about his own attitude to no deal and say clearly today that there are no circumstances whatever in which he would back no deal?

The hon. Gentleman is quite selective in the quotes that he cites on foreign direct investment. He and the House will be well aware that the latest available figures show that the UK has the third highest stock of foreign direct investment in the world after the US and Hong Kong. Clearly, the UK’s record on FDI is strong, and I suggest that Wales’s record is stronger than most of the rest of the UK.

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that every single UK trade delegation overseas sings the song loudly and proudly that Wales is, and will continue to be, open for business?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. He is rightly aware of the great record that Wales has on attracting inward investment. There are more than 60 Japanese companies in Wales, for example, and that is why I was there some weeks ago talking not only about existing investments but about the potential for new investments for the UK outside the European Union.

The Secretary of State will be aware that the Irish Government have recently reopened their consulate in Cardiff. What more can the Government do to encourage other countries to do likewise, so as to boost Wales’s international presence and levels of inward investment?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, which we discussed at the Welsh Affairs Committee on Monday. I pay tribute to him for his persistence on this matter. He rightly points out that the Irish Government have opened an office in Cardiff, and we would encourage other Governments to do that. I am happy to meet and to work with him to see which nations we should target to attract them to Wales and to Cardiff.