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27th June 2024

BCC Director General Shevaun Haviland: Stop treading on eggshells around EU trade

Director General of the BCC, Shevaun Haviland, has urged the next Government to stop treading on eggshells around trade with the EU if it wants to grow the UK economy.

She will make the plea at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Global Annual Conference 2024 on Thursday June 27. In her keynote address, she will also urge the next Government to use the BCC’s Election Manifesto as its ‘day one’ playbook for action.

ON IMPROVING EU RELATIONS

Emphasising the importance of improving EU trade in growing the UK economy, Shevaun will say:

“I’m not here to look backwards, I’m here to help build a better future for our business leaders and entrepreneurs. We must stop walking on eggshells and start saying it how it is.

“The current plan isn’t working for our members. But better trade terms are possible if the UK government and the EU reach agreement in areas of mutual benefit for business on both sides. A better deal is best for everyone.”

ON A PARTNERSHIP APPROACH

On the need for the next Government to use the election as a reset moment, Shevaun is expected to say:

“The only factor that matters, is what the Government will do on day one – after six weeks of electioneering, businesses will be looking at the next government and who will be true to their word

“Business wants a long-term sustainable economic growth plan, some call it an industrial strategy, call it what you like, but what we need is a plan for the next 10, 15, 20 years and beyond.

“Firms don’t want handouts they want government to create the right environment so they can thrive. Whoever wins next week, we are ready to lean in and help our new government power the economy.

“Our plan is to build an economy that has the green transition at its core, with a workforce fit for the future, living in thriving local places and powered by businesses that are globally facing and digitally enabled.

“None of this is going to be easy, none of us can do it on our own, and it’s going to take time. That means we need a real partnership, one that is for that long-term.”

ON SKILLS

Addressing the need to finally close the UK’s worrying skills gap, she is expected to say:

“Skills are a top concern for our members. It’s time for action to boost investment in skills. It’s not about cutting up existing plans, it’s about making sure the right initiatives are given time to work.

“The labour market is heading in the right direction, as we see the number of vacancies fall, but businesses are still telling us the skills they need aren’t there. We need to Plan Better for Skills’ aligning our ambition and investment to prepare young people and job seekers for great jobs.”

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