Minister hails ‘world-class’ exporters as new data shows UK businesses reach record highs

Exports Minister Malcolm Offord has praised the UK’s ‘world-class’ exporters as new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released today (29 September) shows UK exports performed even better than previously thought.

The figures reveal that the UK’s total exports in 2022 were worth a huge £834 billion, putting the UK well on the way to hitting its target of £1 trillion of exports a year by the end of the decade.

2022 was a record year for the UK’s services exports in particular as they topped £400 billion for the first time, and new ONS data estimates they were worth £411 billion in total last year – £10 billion higher than the original estimation of £401 billion.

The ONS have said this is due to more data becoming available and more accurate methodologies being used to calculate export values – particularly for education services exports.

Minister for Exports Lord Offord said:

This is fantastic news and shows our world-class exporting businesses are doing even better than first thought and selling more of the goods and services to the world.

The UK is a services superpower, hitting over £400 billion in exports for the first time last year, but we want to see even more businesses exporting, so we can hit our ambitious target of £1 trillion of exports a year by 2030.

We’re backing British business by knocking down trade barriers, signing new trade deals, giving expert advice via our Export Support Service and funding through UK Export Finance – our award-winning export credit agency.

Marco Forgione, Director General of the Institute of Export & International Trade said:

It’s positive to see improvements across a range of exports within both trade in goods and services.

The Institute of Export & International Trade’s recent report ‘Global horizons: realising the services exports potential of UK nations and regions’ demonstrates why we are a services powerhouse. It’s vital that we maintain our global advantage as an exporter of services and one of the key recommendations of our report was creating regional sector specialisations – which, if implemented, will improve regional outputs.

We have a clear pathway to continue this success and by focusing on our nations and regions we can work together with businesses to reap the benefits of entering new markets.

The ONS has today published an article setting out a detailed assessment of its changes to the export stats, available online on its website.

Link: Minister hails ‘world-class’ exporters as new data shows UK businesses reach record highs
Source: Assent Information Services

Government delivers over one billion pounds of support to over 100,000 small firms

  • Over one billion pounds has now been delivered to scale up small businesses through the government backed Start Up Loan scheme.
  • The scheme offers access to finance and expert advice to allow new SMEs to scale up and grow.
  • Loans have supported businesses in every region across the UK, 40% have gone to female-led firms, and one fifth have supported people from ethnic minority backgrounds

A government backed loan scheme created to help entrepreneurs start and scale up their business has now provided over £1 billion of funding to over 100,000 businesses.

From an activewear firm in Northern Ireland, to a drum manufacturer in Wales, a whisky firm in Scotland to a climbing centre in the southwest of England – every nation and region across the UK has benefitted from these loans, supporting entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

Delivered through the state-owned British Business Bank, the Start Up Loan scheme was developed and launched by the government in 2012 to help new and early-stage UK businesses without sufficient personal funds or support from friends and family to access affordable finance and mentoring support.

Through this combined access to finance and expert advice, more small businesses can develop and reach their potential, delivering economic growth and a boost to local communities.

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said:

“We’re delivering on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy and make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale up a business.

“Across all four nations and every region of the UK, we’ve supported exciting entrepreneurs through one billion pounds of government backed loans, and I want to see even more innovators reach their potential.”

The scheme has been particularly successful in supporting entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, creating a level playing field for all who wish to run their own small business in the UK.

Last year, the scheme was expanded to provide finance to eligible businesses operating for up to 5 years to support their growth.

Liang Zhang, co-founder of Liverpool based jewellers Robin Valley said:

“The Start Up Loan saved us from a tricky period this summer, arriving just in time for us to be able fulfil important orders and pay staff. Thanks to the loan, we are now a profitable business again”.

Of the £1 billion, £371 million (40%) has been lent to female business owners and £201 million (20%) has been lent to people from Black, Asian and Other Ethnic Minority backgrounds.

The scheme has also been successful at championing young entrepreneurship, with young people between 18-24 years old having received £106 million (11%) of loans since the programme began.

Start Up Loans have been issued to businesses in every UK parliamentary constituency. The majority of loans have also been issued to businesses outside of London and the South East, ensuring that businesses across the UK are able to scale up and grow. Outside of these regions, the North West and Yorkshire and Humber have received the largest shares of the loans, receiving £121,619,51 and £89,997,598 respectively.

Link: Government delivers over one billion pounds of support to over 100,000 small firms
Source: Assent Information Services

Prime Minister announces record climate aid commitment as G20 in India concludes

  • UK will provide $2 billion to the Green Climate Fund – the biggest single funding commitment the UK has made to help the world tackle climate change

  • Uplift makes a significant contribution towards the UK’s pledge to spend £11.6 billion on international climate finance, cementing our global climate leadership

  • UK continues to show global climate leadership, having cut emissions faster than any other G7 country

As a gathering of G20 leaders in India concludes today (Sunday), the Prime Minister has announced the UK’s biggest single financial contribution to helping the world’s most vulnerable people adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change.

The UK will contribute £1.62 billion ($2 billion) to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was established by 194 countries following the Copenhagen Accord at COP15. The GCF is the largest global fund dedicated to supporting developing countries to reduce global emissions and helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change.

Today’s pledge represents a 12.7% increase on the UK’s previous contribution to the GCF for the period of 2020 to 2023, which was itself a doubling of our initial funding to establish the fund in 2014.

At the G20 Summit the Prime Minister has called on leaders to work together ahead of the COP28 Summit this December to both reduce their countries’ own carbon emissions and support vulnerable economies to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Addressing G20 leaders, the Prime Minister said:

The UK is stepping up and delivering on our climate commitments, both by decarbonising our own economy and supporting the world’s most vulnerable to deal with the impact of climate change.

This is the kind of leadership that the world rightly expects from G20 countries. And this government will continue to lead by example in making the UK, and the world, more prosperous and secure.

The UK has led international efforts to help developing countries tackle climate change, including by pledging to spend £11.6 billion on international climate finance between 2021 and 2026.

Today’s announcement marks a major contribution towards this commitment and follows the Prime Minister’s announcement at COP27 that the UK would triple our funding for climate adaptation.

Since 2011 UK climate aid spending has helped over 95 million people cope with the effects of climate change and reduced or avoided over 68 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

This goes hand in hand with the UK’s domestic leadership transitioning to clean forms of energy. The UK has cut emissions faster than any other G7 country, with low carbon sources now accounting for more than half of our electricity.

We saw renewables generate a record 47.84% of UK electricity in the first three months of 2023 and output from wind, solar and hydro reached a record high last year. Last year, we saw the biggest increase ever in the installation of offshore wind capacity, with the UK home to the four largest working wind farms in the world.

Alongside this uplift in the UK’s contribution to the GCF, which is expected to again make us one of the largest donors to the fund, the UK Government will continue to stress the importance of the GCF delivering results with even greater speed, demonstrating value for money in all of its activities. This includes asking the GCF to further improve its delivery for those countries most vulnerable to climate change, particularly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

Link: Prime Minister announces record climate aid commitment as G20 in India concludes
Source: Assent Information Services

UK agrees new strategic partnership with Singapore

  • The Prime Minister has signed a new strategic partnership with Singapore to grow the UK’s economy and enhance shared security.   
  • Agreement will harness the UK and Singapore’s expertise in new technologies like cyber and AI to create jobs in both our countries.  
  • Partnership follows agreements with countries including France, Japan and the US, as PM uses global relationships to deliver on the UK’s priorities.

The UK’s economy will be bolstered and our security strengthened under a new bilateral partnership with Singapore agreed by the Prime Minister today (Saturday 9th September).

The Prime Minister will meet Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the margins of the G20 Summit in India to sign a new UK-Singapore Strategic Partnership. This agreement will set the direction of UK-Singapore relations for the next decade, upgrading the UK’s trade and investment relationship with one of Southeast Asia’s leading economies in recognition of our shared expertise and interests in areas like technology and clean energy.

Following the Strategic Partnership, the UK and Singapore will work to conclude a new and modern bilateral investment treaty – the first the UK has negotiated since we left the EU. This will give Singaporean companies more confidence to invest in the UK and vice-versa, creating jobs and growing our economies.

Singapore is one of the UK’s closest and most dynamic partners in the region, with our £21 billion trade relationship accounting for 40% of our total trade with Southeast Asia. Singaporean entities have a total of £226 billion invested in the UK. Last year the UK and Singapore signed a first-of-its-kind Digital Economy Agreement, to help businesses in both our countries seize new trade opportunities.

In addition to enhanced economic cooperation, the new UK-Singapore Strategic Partnership will strengthen security cooperation, science and technology innovation, and research and development. This includes collaboration to counter new and emerging threats in domains like cyber, through a first of its kind partnership between Singapore’s new Digital and Intelligence Service and the UK.

The Prime Minister said:

I am totally committed to delivering on my priorities to halve inflation, grow the economy while reducing government debt, cut NHS waiting lists and stop the boats. But none of these priorities can be achieved without working with our international partners.

As Prime Minister, I’ve put the interests of the British people front and centre of my international engagement. I am ensuring that diplomacy delivers.

You have already seen that through deals that will stop illegal migration, make our economy more secure and increase trade with our international partners.

This new agreement with Singapore will take us even further in delivering our priorities and ensure that, as we map the future of the world economy, we are doing so alongside our closest partners.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak has forged a number of new bilateral and multilateral partnerships which are already helping to deliver on the UK Government’s priorities.

This includes agreements with countries such as France, Albania and Turkey to stop illegal migration, the Hiroshima Accord with Japan and Atlantic Declaration with the United States which will strengthen our economy, and the AUKUS pact with Australia and the US to build a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

Earlier this year, the UK also became the first new country to accede to the CPTPP Pacific trade agreement. We are in the process of negotiating further free trade agreements, including a deal with India which would be the first the country has signed with a European country.

And on Thursday, the Prime Minister announced that UK scientists will have access to the world’s largest research collaboration programme, Horizon Europe, after he secured a bespoke deal with the EU.

In his engagements at the G20 today, the Prime Minister will stress the need for leaders in attendance to drive action on the biggest challenges facing the world, including stabilising the global economy and strengthening global security.

Link: UK agrees new strategic partnership with Singapore
Source: Assent Information Services

UK government sets out AI Safety Summit ambitions

  • First five objectives of the AI Safety Summit to be progressed shared by UK Government
  • UK will work closely with global partners to make frontier AI safe, and to ensure nations and citizens globally can realise its benefits
  • AI Safety Summit will bring together key countries, leading technology organisations, academia and civil society together

The UK government has today set out its ambitions for the AI Safety Summit which will take place on the 1st and 2nd November at Bletchley Park.

Secretary of State Michelle Donelan is this week launching the start of formal engagement prior to the summit as Jonathan Black and Matt Clifford, the Prime Minister’s Representatives for the AI Safety Summit, begin discussions with countries and some frontier AI organisations. This follows a roundtable hosted by the Secretary of State with a cross-section of civil society groups last week.

The AI Safety Summit will bring together key countries, as well as leading technology organisations, academia and civil society to inform rapid national and international action at the frontier of Artificial Intelligence (AI) development.

The summit will focus on risks created or significantly exacerbated by the most powerful AI systems, particularly those associated with the potentially dangerous capabilities of these systems. For example, this would include the proliferation of access to information which could undermine biosecurity. The summit will also focus on how safe AI can be used for public good and to improve people’s lives – from lifesaving medical technology to safer transport.

The summit will draw on a range of perspectives both prior to and at the event itself to inform these discussions. The UK looks forward to working closely with global partners on these issues to make frontier AI safe, and to ensure nations and citizens globally can realise its benefits, now and in the future. As part of an iterative and consultative process, the UK is now sharing the five objectives which will be progressed. These build upon initial stakeholder consultation and evidence-gathering and will frame the discussion at the summit:

  • a shared understanding of the risks posed by frontier AI and the need for action
  • a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety, including how best to support national and international frameworks
  • appropriate measures which individual organisations should take to increase frontier AI safety
  • areas for potential collaboration on AI safety research, including evaluating model capabilities and the development of new standards to support governance
  • showcase how ensuring the safe development of AI will enable AI to be used for good globally

Accelerating AI investment, deployment and capabilities represent enormous opportunities for productivity and public good. The emergence of models with increasingly general capabilities, and step changes in accessibility and application, have created the prospect of up to $7 trillion in growth over the next 10 years and significantly faster drug discovery.

However, without appropriate guardrails, this technology also poses significant risks in ways that do not respect national boundaries. The need to address these risks, including at an international level, is increasingly urgent.

Individual countries, international organisations, businesses, academia and civil society are already taking forward critical work and driving international collaboration on AI including at the UN, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), Council of Europe, G7, G20 and standard development organisations. The summit will build on these important initiatives by agreeing practical next steps to address risks from frontier AI. This will include further discussions on how to operationalise risk-mitigation measures at frontier AI organisations, assessment of the most important areas for international collaboration to support safe frontier AI, and a roadmap for longer-term action.

Link: UK government sets out AI Safety Summit ambitions
Source: Assent Information Services