Government puts business first with Brexit regulation shakeup

Plans to reduce costly and time-consuming regulatory burdens on business have been revealed by the Government today [Wednesday 24 May].

A wide range of UK companies, investors and industry experts have been invited to give their views on non-financial reporting regimes, in a new call for evidence that aims to find ways to reduce reporting regulation burdens on businesses so that they can focus on growth.

Non-financial reporting provides valuable information to investors and is a way for companies to tell their ‘story’ beyond financial information. This includes future strategy, and detail on how a wide range of factors may affect the company’s performance, providing insight into the business and culture of the company.

However, companies and investors have been calling for the simplification of these requirements in the wake of the deregulatory opportunities offered by Brexit. Annual reports now run at an average of 200 pages for the largest companies in the UK, creating unnecessary burden for businesses. With this review, the Government will aim to:

  • Save businesses time and money with a more streamlined and focused corporate reporting regime
  • Ensure company annual reports contain clearer, more useful information, by asking investors what really matters to them
  • Make the UK an even more competitive place to do business by placing growth and investment at the heart of reporting requirements

Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said:

We want to shred unnecessary paperwork so businesses can focus on what’s important to them – growing and making profit.

By seizing on the opportunities of Brexit to streamline our non-financial reporting regime, we’ll make the UK an easier and more competitive place to do business, while delivering on our priority to grow the economy.

As part of this, we will also review the size thresholds that determine some of the information a company needs to produce in their annual report, in particular the definition of micro-enterprises. This threshold, a relic of an EU directive, could be forcing too many of Britain’s smallest businesses to spend time and money preparing information to a level of detail only needed for larger companies, distracting them from focusing on growth and creating jobs.

The call for evidence will end on 16 August. The Government will then use the information collected to develop detailed proposals for public consultation next year.

Subject to the views shared, the Government will then look to legislate for any changes.

This builds on the “Smarter regulation to grow the economy” policy paper (10 May 2023) which set out how the government would improve regulation across the board to reduce burdens and drive economic growth now that the UK has left the European Union.

Our departure from the EU allows us to shape rules and processes so that they work for the UK’s specific circumstances and businesses, including for non-financial reporting, while upholding our strong record on workers’ rights.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Call for Evidence has been published on GOV.UK:
  2. The intention to conduct this review was announced as part of the response to the Restoring Trust in Audit and Corporate Governance white paper:
  3. The non-financial reporting review will primarily focus on the Companies Act and the disclosure requirements contained within it. Views on wider reporting requirements that sit outside of the Annual Report are also being collected covering gender pay gap and modern slavery reporting.
  4. This call for evidence is not seeking views on the policy intention of modern slavery and gender gap reporting, but rather how these reporting requirements fit within wider non-financial reporting frameworks.

Link: Government puts business first with Brexit regulation shakeup
Source: Assent Information Services

Japanese firms commit record £17.7 billion investment into the UK

  • Japanese businesses commit almost £18 billion investment in the UK as PM hosts business reception in Tokyo
  • New finance from firms like Marubeni Corporation and Sumitomo Electric Industries set to create high quality jobs in strategic clean-energy industries
  • British businesses like Octopus Energy and Mott MacDonald seize opportunities in Japan as UK prepares to join CPTPP

Leading Japanese businesses have committed to invest almost £18 billion in businesses and projects across the UK, generating growth in key sectors, creating high-skilled jobs and driving technology innovation.

The announcement comes as the Prime Minister prepares to host a business reception in Tokyo today [Thursday 18th], where he will welcome the strength of the UK and Japan’s economic relationship and set out the opportunities to go further.

Japan is already our 5th largest investor with £92 billion invested in the UK, and our trade in goods and services was worth £27.7 billion last year – which is likely to be boosted further when the UK joins the regional CPTPP trade bloc. The Prime Minister will thank Japanese CPTPP Minister Goto in person today for Japan’s strong support for the UK’s membership.

The new investments include funding for offshore wind, low carbon hydrogen and other clean energy projects from Marubeni. The leading Japanese trading house has announced its intention to sign an MoU with the government which envisages approximately £10 billion of investment in the UK with its partners over the next 10 years – including in offshore wind in Scotland and green hydrogen projects in Wales and Scotland.

The company is already supporting 500 UK jobs through its subsidiary SmartestEnergy Limited and will collaborate with government to create a substantial number of new green jobs in the UK.

Mitsubishi Estate and Mitsui Fudosan, two of the largest real estate companies in Japan, are also confirming plans to invest £3.5 billion in the UK today. The planned projects will build affordable housing, high quality office space and life-science laboratory in London, which is expected to support thousands of jobs and help to revitalise areas of the capital.

Sumitomo Corporation intends to expand its UK offshore wind projects, leading to a total investment of £4 billion in projects off the coasts of Suffolk and Norfolk alongside its partners. The major investment further solidifies the UK’s status as a clean energy pioneer and supports Government’s ambition to install 50GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.

Sumitomo Electric Industries has also announced its decision to build a strategically important high voltage cable manufacturing plant in the Scottish Highlands, bringing more than £200m in investment and creating 150 highly=skilled green jobs. This investment will help the UK build resilient supply chains for critical infrastructure such as offshore wind projects and support UK developers to enhance their contribution to UK growth.

The new investment will support growth in some of the UK’s most cutting-edge industries. Toshiba will be expanding operations at their Cambridge Laboratory, for example, which is designing and delivering advanced quantum-safe cryptographic communication solutions – creating more than 30 new jobs initially and investing in excess of £20 million in new technology development.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

These new investments are a massive vote of confidence in the UK’s dynamic economy, from some of Japan’s top firms.

Working with the Government and British industry they will create the kind of high-quality, reliable jobs and transformative local investment we are delivering around the country.

It’s great to also see leading UK businesses seizing the huge opportunities for growth and collaboration in Japan. As we grow our trade ties further and join the huge regional CPTPP trade bloc, the sky’s the limit for British and Japanese businesses and entrepreneurs.

UK company Octopus Energy is also announcing today its commitment to invest £1.5 billion in the Asia-Pacific energy market by 2027, helping speed up the region’s transition to a cleaner, smarter energy system. Doubling down on its existing Asian headquarters, Octopus will commit £300 million to expand its tech innovation and energy retail hub in Tokyo. This will enable the business to increase its headcount tenfold by 2027, creating 1,000 green jobs for UK and local talent.

As we grow our defence cooperation with Japan, Leonardo UK in partnership with Kawasaki Heavy Industries has been contracted to provide further world-class naval helicopters and Mid Life Upgrade kits for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, in a deal worth over £150 million in exports.

Building on the UK’s expertise in offshore wind, UK consultancy Mott MacDonald has also secured a major contract to help develop a state-of-the-art offshore wind farm in western Japan that could power more than 175,000 homes with clean energy.

Masumi Kakinoki, CEO of Marubeni Corporation said:

We are thrilled to have forged a robust partnership with the United Kingdom, and we eagerly anticipate collaborating with the UK government to unleash a surge of investment into the nation’s clean energy transition.

This endeavour not only signifies our commitment to the UK’s energy transition, but also reinforces Marubeni’s role as an active participant in the global march towards a sustainable future. We are on the brink of an energy revolution, and it is partnerships like these that will help ensure our shared success.

Greg Jackson, Founder of Octopus Energy Group, said:

International cooperation is the key to creating an energy transition which benefits consumers and economies as well as the climate. Our partnership with Tokyo Gas has grown ever stronger and I’m delighted to be bringing even more investment to Japan and into the UK.

Linking our businesses in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore to the UK and Europe, our operations in Japan have helped create a unique global technology ecosystem benefiting everyone. I’m excited to take it even further with today’s announcement.

Alongside chief executives and CEOs from firms like Nissan, Sumitomo Corporation and Hitachi, the Prime Minister will meet three start-up UK companies at today’s business reception. Winnow, Transreport and Oxentia have just announced new partnerships and offices in Japan, demonstrating the opportunities for growing UK companies to export internationally.

These announcements come as the UK and Japanese governments unveil a new Renewable Energy Partnership which includes building business partnerships to accelerate the deployment of clean energy.

Link: Japanese firms commit record £17.7 billion investment into the UK
Source: Assent Information Services

UK and Japan strengthen science and tech ties in Tokyo

  • UK and Japan today signed a renewed science and technology deal, building on decades of close cooperation
  • deepening relationship on science and technology follows initial joint UK-Japan projects announced as part of International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF) in December
  • deal comes as part of Science Minister George Freeman’s work to cement science and tech cooperation between the world’s leading economies, at the G7 Science and Technology Ministers’ Meeting in Sendai

The UK and Japan will take their cooperation on science, technology and innovation to new heights, after agreeing to renew the two countries’ longstanding Science and Technology Agreement for the 21st Century, with a focus on innovation and game-changing new technologies.

The new Implementing Arrangement was signed by UK Science Minister George Freeman and Minister State Minister Nakatani Shinichi from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry today (Monday 15 May), in Tokyo, and forms the latest part of the UK’s push to take a truly global approach to science and innovation.

The renewed deal opens up more opportunities for close collaboration to bring cutting edge new technologies to market. This could focus on priority areas like semiconductors and clean tech, which will be critical to growing the economy which is one of the Prime Minister’s five key priorities.

UK Minister for Science George Freeman said:

Japan is the world’s third-largest economy and a science and technology powerhouse. They have produced more Nobel Prize laureates than any other Asia-Pacific country. Bringing Japan’s unique strengths even closer together with the UK’s world-class science and research expertise is a massive opportunity for both our countries, to pool our skills and expertise as we tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the world, all whilst growing our economies and creating jobs.

This deal is just another demonstration of the UK’s ambition to become a truly global science superpower, by deepening collaboration on the science and technology of tomorrow with like-minded nations like Japan, as well as the rest of the G7, to secure our collective future, drive economic growth and improve lives.

Over the last week, in Japan, Minister Freeman has been making the case for the world’s leading democracies to work closer together, to ensure that scientific advances deliver security, prosperity, while tackling the key issues facing our planet, from climate change and bio-security through to space sustainability.

The G7 Science and Technology Ministers’ Meeting, hosted in the Japanese city of Sendai in the last few days provided an important platform to demonstrate how the UK’s leadership in science and innovation – as well as that of the world’s other leading free societies – can be used to enforce our shared principles and challenge authoritarian narratives, as well as drive economic growth. The economic benefits that flow from innovation, are what unlocks investment in public services like the NHS, the ability to cut national debt, and what brings down inflation, all of which are key priorities for the Prime Minister in 2023.

The last week has also provided an opportunity to further cement the UK’s close relationship with Japan, visiting researchers at the NanoTerasu synchrotron radiation facility as well as Tokohu University’s disaster science institute, and meeting leaders from Japanese science and tech companies that are heavily involved in the UK.

The UK and Japan share many of the same science and innovation priorities. Japan’s Moonshot R&D Programme includes a focus on quantum, one of the five critical technologies identified in the UK Science and Technology Framework.

Last year, the UK government committed a further £15.5 million investment to the Hyper-Kamiokande (Hyper-K) project, which is a next generation global neutrino experiment in Japan. This 15-storey physics experiment is helping scientists discover more about the fundamental particles that make up the Universe. We have long enjoyed close links in areas like life sciences, space, and through collaborative research projects funded in partnership by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and partners like the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

The new arrangements for the UK-Japan Science and Technology Agreement commit both countries to work together on joint R&D programmes, as well as academic and industrial exchange schemes. The two governments will encourage collaboration between UK and Japanese companies, by creating new networking and investment opportunities, and through closer connections between public bodies like UKRI and Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The UK and Japan will also work together closely to ensure their science governance and standards are aligned.

The UK Science and Technology Framework sets out the ambition for the UK to be internationally recognised as a tech superpower by 2030. International collaboration is what powers the UK’s global leadership in science and technology. This means it is essential for the UK to collaborate more deeply with other leading nations to tackle the urgent global challenges facing our planet through science and tech. The International Technology Strategy sets out the work being done to build those partnerships, in a way that promotes positive values and boosts security.

Link: UK and Japan strengthen science and tech ties in Tokyo
Source: Assent Information Services

UK to launch talks with Switzerland on new trade deal

  • UK kickstarts negotiations on a modern free trade agreement with Switzerland
  • Switzerland is the UK’s 10th largest trade partner, with trade worth almost £53 billion
  • New deal will reinforce UK’s reputation as a services superpower, after a record high for services exports in 2022

Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch today [15 May] flies to Switzerland to launch negotiations on a new UK-Switzerland free trade agreement (FTA) to boost trade between the two services superpowers.

Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and the UK’s 10th largest trading partner. The two countries are among the world’s leading service economies, exporting almost £15 billion worth of services including financial, professional, legal, and architecture every year.

The current UK-Switzerland FTA is based on an EU-Swiss deal from more than 50 years ago – before the advent of the home computer or the internet – and does not cover services, investment, digital or data. With most of the UK’s services exports to Switzerland delivered electronically – almost 69% in 2020 – both sides are keen to rectify this in upcoming talks.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said:

As two of the world’s leading service economies, there’s a huge prize on offer to both the UK and Switzerland by updating our trading relationship to reflect the strength of our companies working in areas ranging from finance and legal, to accountancy and architecture.

The UK and Switzerland are natural trading partners and today’s launch will play to our strengths as services superpowers, while also boosting investment in emerging technologies, data innovation, and digital trade.

ONS figures published earlier this year showed UK services exports reaching record highs in 2022, totalling £397 billion – an increase of 20% compared to 2021 in current prices.

The Business and Trade Secretary will launch talks on the new, modernised deal with her counterpart Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin in Bern, the country’s capital city.

During her visit, Badenoch will also go to SIX, the operator of the Swiss Exchange, Europe’s 3rd biggest stock exchange and one of the industry’s most respected post-trade service providers.

Whilst at SIX she will visit the innovation accelerator Tenity where she will meet startups already operational in the UK including Enterprise Bot, Xworks, SmartPurse and Jrny.

A refresh of our trading relationship with Switzerland will add to the UK’s growing armoury of powerful service-focused deals by removing remaining market access barriers, improving regulatory cooperation and enabling UK firms to compete on an equal footing in Switzerland, now and in the future.

Switzerland’s demand for imports is expected to grow in real terms by 78% by 2050. The new deal could lower tariffs on UK exports to Switzerland, which could reduce annual duties for UK businesses by around £7.4 million.

It will also benefit the more than 14,000 UK businesses which already export goods to Switzerland, 86% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), by creating simpler trade rules for products of origin, customs procedures and digitisation.

CEO of SIX, Jos Dijsselhof, said:

The new UK-Switzerland free trade agreement’s shared ambition hold also great importance for the financial sector, fostering cooperation, trade, and mobility.

SIX welcomes this move, supporting open and international capital markets, promoting healthy exchange and competition between the two major financial centres in Switzerland and the UK.

Switzerland is a key investment partner to the UK with the total stock of Swiss foreign direct investment in sectors such as textiles, chemicals, manufacturing and financial services worth £74 billion in 2021, while UK investment into Switzerland was worth £52 billion. A new FTA would look to boost this even further, helping facilitate more investment by Swiss companies into communities around the UK and seeking preferential terms for UK investors in Switzerland.

Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation, Chris Hayward, said:

The UK and Switzerland are the two largest financial centres in Europe which means strengthening our services trade relationship is a top priority for the sector. An enhanced trade agreement would address key cross-cutting issues including mobility, data flows and digital trade to the benefit of both jurisdictions.

Negotiating a new free trade deal with Switzerland along with a ground-breaking mutual recognition agreement in financial services presents a unique opportunity to set a new paradigm for services trade, and would provide a template for the UK’s future trading relationships.

Alexander Dennis Fleet Sales Director, Matthew Lawrence, said:

We’re the world’s leading manufacturer of double-deck buses and bus companies in Switzerland and we supplied Swiss national operator PostAuto with a fleet of low-emissions Alexander Dennis double decker buses.

A free-trade agreement between the UK and Switzerland would benefit us and our Swiss customers in streamlining the supply of spare parts, while also opening up business opportunities for further British-built buses.

Executive Director of International Policy, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, Claire Machin, said:

Negotiation of an Enhanced Trade Agreement between the UK and Switzerland provides a pivotal opportunity for a world-leading agreement between two life science superpowers.

Prioritisation of life sciences in negotiations could help to boost the growth of our two innovation-intensive economies and set world-leading standards to encourage the creation and adoption of the next wave of scientific technologies.

During her visit to Switzerland, Badenoch will also meet with leading female business leaders at Advance, a network of close to 140 Swiss companies committed to increasing the share of women in management in Switzerland.


  • The launch will take place at the Federal Palace of Switzerland. The first round of talks are scheduled for week commencing 22 May.
  • Switzerland ranks as the UK’s 2nd largest trading partner in Trade in Professional and Business Services. In 2022, total PBS trade with Switzerland amounted to £9.2 billion (39% of total UK services trade with Switzerland).
  • Talks will also look to provide long-term certainty on business travel, particularly for services firms, helping firms in a wide range of sectors, from life sciences to tech to share expertise, form vital partnerships and expand into new markets.
  • We will also seek to cut remaining tariffs on UK exports such as red meat, chocolate and baked goods, which are currently very high. Switzerland imports over £5.5bn a year of agri-goods under product lines where tariffs still apply for the UK.
  • The businesses are supported by Tenity, which provides incubation and acceleration programs to help startups in connect with entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, and investors for early-stage venture and late-stage venture investing.

Link: UK to launch talks with Switzerland on new trade deal
Source: Assent Information Services

Landmark post-Brexit trade deals to come into force this month driving economic growth across the UK

  • Benefits of ground-breaking free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand to be unleashed for British businesses and consumers later this month
  • First trade deals negotiated from scratch by the UK and tailored to our strengths as a services-led economy
  • Trade deals deliver on the Prime Minister’s priorities to grow the economy and drive innovation

British businesses and consumers will soon be able to reap the benefits of the UK’s first trade deals negotiated from scratch since leaving the European Union with the agreements set to come into force this month.

Expected to increase bilateral trade with Australia by 53% and with New Zealand by 59% in the long term, the two game-changing free trade agreements are anticipated to go live across all three countries from midnight on 31 May.

It comes as the Prime Minister meets both the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Chris Hipkins, tomorrow for talks in Downing Street ahead of the Coronation.

Both trade deals will drive economic growth and innovation across the UK, Australia and New Zealand through the removal of tariffs on all UK goods exports, open unprecedented access for services, cutting of red tape for digital trade, and by making it easier for UK professionals to live and work in Australia and New Zealand.

It comes just weeks after the UK concluded negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade area worth £9 trillion, putting us at the heart of a trading powerhouse.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

As some of our closest allies, and greatest friends, I am delighted our first built from scratch trade deals are with Australia and New Zealand.

These landmark deals squarely deliver on my priorities to drive economic growth, boost innovation and increase highly skilled jobs across the UK, ensuring we and our closest friends continue to prosper for generations to come.

Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, said:

With these two deals the UK is using our status as an independent trading nation to tailor agreements to our country’s economic strengths. Alongside our recent conclusion of talks to join CPTPP, the government is forging a bold new future alongside the world’s most dynamic and fast-growing economies.

Putting these trade deals into action will help create new opportunities for business, boosting wages and helping spur economic growth.

The UK and Welsh Governments have now made the final legislative changes needed to bring the trade deals into action.

Services are central to the UK’s economy, accounting for around 80% of its economic output and workforce, and one of its biggest export success stories. The provisions in these deals complement our strengths and will help deliver on the PM’s priority of growing our economy.

UK professionals from scientists and researchers to lawyers and accountants will have access to Australian work visas without being subject to its changing skilled occupation list. Brits will also be able to work more freely in New Zealand through commitments which enable UK service suppliers to deliver contracts.

Other UK benefits include:

  • Investment opportunities and access to government contracts, including putting British businesses on equal footing to compete for an additional £10 billion of Australian public sector contracts per year and high investment screening thresholds for UK investors in New Zealand
  • Tariff free access to both markets for all British goods and flexible rules of origins, giving businesses a competitive edge over international rivals
  • Reaffirmed commitments to the Paris Agreement and opportunities to grow our low-carbon economy, with tariffs on environmental goods liberalised
  • Removal of UK import tariffs on majority of goods from Australia and New Zealand, reducing prices for UK consumers on favourites such as wine and manuka honey and lowering costs on machinery parts for UK manufacturers
  • Progressive rules on digital trade and free flow of data, cutting red tape for SMEs and easing trade while protecting intellectual property, brands and innovations

There are robust protections for British farmers in both deals, including staging tariff liberalisation for sensitive goods over time.

Both countries are key members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a huge trade bloc in the Indo-Pacific.

Businesses have welcomed the news, including:

Grimshaw, a global architecture practice with its origins in the UK, where it is known for its work on the global Eden projects as well as Waterloo Station, London Bridge station and the line-wide design for the recently opened Elizabeth Line.

It has been working in Melbourne since 2002 – instigated by its first project in that city, Southern Cross Station. In Sydney, the studio was established in 2010 and has designed and delivered important projects in infrastructure as well as commercial architecture, tertiary education and research laboratories including the Sydney Light Rail, Martin Place Metro Station and the recently completed Poly Centre, 210 George Street. Both studios have grown to now comprise nearly a third of Grimshaw’s world-wide staff.

It has also been working in New Zealand for almost a decade on the City Rail Link. In June 2023, it is due to formally launch its new studio in New Zealand and its Auckland premises will open with approximately 20 full time staff.

Mark Middleton, Global Managing Partner at Grimshaw, said:

Our approach has always been characterised by the same motivations and thinking which are the very essence of free trade – the movement of people and goods without restrictive tariffs or conditions. But with the advent of the new UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement, we can now approach the mobility of our architects through simplified and liberated arrangements for transfers between our studios.

Also of great importance to us is the integration into the UK-Australia FTA of the assurance that architects from both countries can provide services under contract in either country. This, combined with the provision that those architects within our practice who now wish to transfer between the UK and Australia can work for four years, double the previous term, provides us with much welcomed certainty as we construct our teams and extend our collaboration. This important development is mirrored in the UK-New Zealand agreement where UK architects can now transfer to our Auckland studio for three years.

With the formalisation of the new Australian and New Zealand FTAs, we now operate with a much welcome assurance that our business can continue to attract both our global collaborators and new talent to our Australasian studios, assuring our continuing growth and prosperity.

Seed & Bean, founded in London 2005 with the idea to create an ethical range of confectionery. The company previously exported to Australia and New Zealand, however this ceased due to COVID. It maintains an ambition to export to both nations again and the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) would help do that.

Seed & Bean’s Chief Chocolatier Oliver Shorts said:

The trade deals with Australia and New Zealand will help us reduce the landed cost of our organic chocolate bars into the two countries. One of the big barriers to entry are the costs involved in getting the goods in, and this will allow us to help any potential distributor margins and permit the product to be a more viable opportunity in the market.

As part of the two Free Trade Agreements, originating British food and drink products will benefit from reduced tariffs.

The Fifth Wheel Company, which manufactures luxury leisure vehicles in North Wales. The company’s export sales make up over 40% of its annual turnover with its products reaching as far as Australia and New Zealand.

Fifth Wheel’s Technical Director, John Gethin Whiteley, said:

We believe our products are the best in the world and the Australia and New Zealand trade agreements will allow us to increase our export sales to these regions. As the Fifth Wheel concept is a recognised method of towing in Australia and New Zealand, and the appetite from the public is ever growing to live off grid and explore, we see a massive potential for our products in this marketplace and are actively looking for partners to help us grow.

As a result of the Free Trade Agreements, tariffs on all products will be removed making it more competitive for UK manufacturers to export their products to these markets.


  • The agreement is expected to enter into force on the 31 May, subject to finalisation of UK domestic procedures with remaining changes to UK law coming into force at the end of May.
  • Please see here for more information on the UK-Australia free trade deal.
  • Please see here for more information on the UK-New Zealand free trade deal.

Link: Landmark post-Brexit trade deals to come into force this month driving economic growth across the UK
Source: Assent Information Services

Trade Remedies Authority publishes Corporate and Business Plan 2023-2026

The Trade Remedies Authority today published its consolidated Corporate and Business Plan 2023-2026. This ambitious plan sets out the TRA’s corporate and business planning priorities for the next three years under its four strategic goals of Cases, People, Digital and Reputation and details how the TRA plans to deliver its mission of defending UK economic interests against unfair international trade practices.

A far-reaching work programme

By March 2025, the TRA expects to have completed its review of all 43 trade remedy measures transitioned from the EU. From this point, the TRA will act directly in response to requests from UK industries. Developments in the global economy, such as the spread in use of subsides for strategic industries, could drive an increasing need for trade remedies in the future. To help ensure that every British industry that could need this support is aware of the UK’s trade remedies regime, the TRA will continue to invest in its Pre-Application Office, which offers free confidential advice to support businesses interested in making an application. The TRA has recently launched an online hub to provide additional guidance for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) navigating what trade remedies could mean for them. The TRA has also introduced a biennial survey of stakeholder views to help ensure we’re focusing on what matters to businesses and other key stakeholders.

Expanded analysis of the TRA’s operating environment and risk landscape

The plan sets out an ambitious programme of 20 corporate and business planning priorities for the next three years, aligned to the TRA’s strategic goals – this includes a programme to monitor and evaluate the impact of the recommendations the TRA makes to the Government, a digital vision roadmap and how the organisation plans to expand engagement with peer trade remedies bodies worldwide. The plan also expands its analysis of the TRA’s external operating environment, which in turn informs its risk landscape and reflects the rapid pace of both domestic and global change. And to ensure that stakeholders can hold the TRA to account on the deliverables that matter most, the plan sets out a strengthened set of high-level Key Performance Indicators for each of the TRA’s strategic goals.

TRA Chair Simon Walker explains:

The Trade Remedies Authority plays a critical role in the government’s vision of putting trade at the heart of global Britain. This plan sets out how, over the coming years, we will build on and deploy the independent expertise needed to provide robust advice and recommendations to government in support of the UK’s strategy for prosperity and economic growth.

The plan includes links to further detailed information about the TRA and its schedule of cases. It will be reviewed, updated and rolled forward each year to make sure it takes account of changes in operating environment, supports the organisation in being agile and flexible as a business, and remains fit for purpose. The plan will be followed in July 2023 by the TRA’s first Annual Report & Accounts.

Background information

  • As an independent body operating at arm’s length from the Department for Business & Trade, the TRA is guided in its work by its principles of proportionality, impartiality, transparency and efficiency.
  • The TRA welcomes applications for trade remedies investigations from any business operating in the UK. Read our online guidance to find out more about how to apply and what information to provide.

Link: Trade Remedies Authority publishes Corporate and Business Plan 2023-2026
Source: Assent Information Services

UK’s thriving tech sector promoted to American entrepreneurs and investors

  • New campaign launched in US – with billboards across Silicon Valley – to encourage tech experts to invest in the UK and help deliver on priority to grow the economy
  • Campaign promotes that UK is now the third country in the world to have a trillion dollar tech sector
  • Short film narrated by Stephen Fry highlights the UK’s tech success

In 2022, the UK became only the third country in the world to have its tech sector valued at one trillion dollars, making it a tech superpower alongside the US and China.

To date, 162 ‘tech Unicorns’ – private start-ups which are valued at more than $1bn – have been started in the UK, more than the total number in Germany, France and Sweden combined.

Yet government research suggests that many of Silicon Valley’s top tech entrepreneurs and investors are still not aware of the UK’s world-leading strengths in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), fintech and medical technology.

GREAT, the government flagship marketing programme, has taken steps to address this by launching its ‘Unicorn Kingdom’ campaign, which promotes the UK as a place with all the right ingredients to breed new tech unicorns and aims to drive international investment, grow the economy and create jobs across the UK.

The campaign launched with billboards in San Francisco promoting the UK sector’s scale ($1trillion), agile regulation and world-class talent. The campaign also includes targeted LinkedIn and digital display ads and a content partnership with TechCrunch, with promotional videos narrated by Stephen Fry.

The campaign is being supported by multiple UK tech unicorns including Darktrace, Deepmind, Revolut, and Matillion – and is the latest in a number of recent actions from the government which demonstrates its strong support for UK tech.

This includes the establishment of the new Department of Science, Technology and Innovation, the launch of  the International Tech Strategy, the upcoming AI Whitepaper and the Government’s commitment to provide £20 billion of funding to research and development by 2024-25 – the highest ever level of public support for UK researchers and innovators.

The next stage of the campaign will see leaders from the US tech sector invited to the UK for London Tech week, to see the benefits of working in the UK first-hand.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:

The UK has all the right ingredients for tech companies to thrive. But we’ll keep working hard to foster the right conditions for the tech sector, so that it can continue to deliver on my priority to grow the economy and create jobs right across the UK.

Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, said:

The UK tech sector is a wonderful success story. Only three countries in the world are in the trillion-dollar tech club – and we’re one of them. We’re home to some of the brightest minds and best universities, and our doors are open to any tech entrepreneur who wants to start the next Deepmind or Deliveroo.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said:

The UK has one of the top tech sectors in the world with a valuation of more than a trillion dollars. It’s diverse, resilient, and continues to grow at a rapid pace with the most venture capital investment in Europe. The goal of this campaign is to attract as much collaboration and investment as we can from Silicon Valley.

The formation of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, shows Investors and entrepreneurs that the UK is more dedicated than ever to forming a tech sector that is pro-innovation, pro-talent and pro-growth. Our commitment for R&D spending to be £20 billion a year by 2024 drives forward the government’s ambitions for the UK to be a science and tech superpower.

As well as the promotional campaign, business leaders from across Silicon Valley were invited to a special reception to promote the UK tech sector in San Francisco.

At the event, they met the leaders of tech companies from across the UK as well as senior government officials, who explained to them the UK’s place at the centre of the tech world and the benefits of investing in the country.

Matthew Scullion, CEO and founder of Manchester-based tech company, Matillion, said:  

In the UK, we really have all the ingredients required for building consequential companies. We have brilliant grassroots engineering skills from our very strong university ecosystem. We have skills, we have capital, and we have a great environment for starting and building businesses.

Further activities will also be carried out in the UK during London Tech Week in June, when leaders from the tech sector in America will be invited to the country to see the benefits of working in the UK.

Link: UK’s thriving tech sector promoted to American entrepreneurs and investors
Source: Assent Information Services

Boost for Welsh businesses as UK strikes deal to join major free trade bloc in Indo-Pacific

  • UK announces deal to join CPTPP – a major trade bloc in the Indo-Pacific which will have a total GDP of £11 trillion once the UK joins
  • More than 450 businesses in Wales exported to CPTPP countries in 2021 and could benefit after today’s announcement
  • Joining the Trans-Pacific partnership, which contains some of the world’s fastest growing economies, gives Welsh companies, start-ups and farmers access to the world’s emerging middle class

The Welsh economy is expected to benefit after the UK Government today (31 March) announced the conclusion of trade talks with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a vast free trade area spanning the Indo-Pacific.

The bloc is home to over 500 million people and will have a total GDP of £11 trillion once the UK joins. Joining the bloc could boost the Welsh economy by improving businesses’ access to some of the world’s largest markets.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

We are at our heart an open and free-trading nation, and this deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms. As part of CPTPP, the UK is now in a prime position in the global economy to seize opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation.

Joining the CPTPP trade bloc puts the UK at the centre of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies, as the first new nation and first European country to join. British businesses will now enjoy unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the south Pacific.

There are numerous opportunities for Welsh businesses to benefit from joining CPTPP, with more than 450 businesses in Wales exporting over £900m worth of goods to CPTPP countries in 2021.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said:

This is an important moment for the UK. Our accession to CPTPP sends a powerful signal that the UK is open for business and using our post-Brexit freedoms to reach out to new markets around the world and grow our economy.

Joining CPTPP will support jobs and create opportunities for companies of all sizes and in all parts of the UK. It is also about giving Welsh businesses improved access to the countries that will be gateway to the wider Indo-Pacific region which is projected to make up the majority of global growth in the future.

Joining the trade bloc will mean more than 99 percent of UK goods exports to CPTPP members will be eligible for zero tariffs. In the long run, it could boost the UK economy by £1.8 billion and lead to a £1.7 billion increase in UK exports to CPTPP countries as result of the reduction of barriers across goods and services according to the Government’s published scoping assessment. Key Welsh exports such as machinery and power generators could benefit from the removal of tariffs as a result of the agreement.

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said:

This trade deal is great news for Welsh business. CPTPP countries are already an important sector in the Welsh export market. Over 450 companies, including Halen Môn and Fifth Wheel, will benefit from less red tape and better opportunities. These growing markets will help businesses in Wales increase export opportunities and boost the global appetite for Welsh goods and services.

Fifth Wheel Company are a multi-award winning business specialising in the design and manufacturing of luxury tourers. All of their vehicles are assembled in-house at their factory in Rhuallt in North Wales, and they’re excited about the exporting opportunities that will be created by the UK joining CPTPP.

Gethin Whiteley at Fifth Wheel, commented:

We’ve been exporting our luxury caravans to Australia and New Zealand customers for the last five years. The leisure and camping market within these countries is growing, and our products offer the size and space of a motorhome and the practicality of a car and caravan so are perfectly suited to explore.

We have already embarked on a trade mission to strengthen our position in these markets, and we believe that joining CPTPP, along with the bilateral deals, will further assist us in our search to increase exports of our products to markets of growing importance.

Wales-based company Halen Môn produce ANGLESEY Sea Salt, which can be found in over 100 of the UK’s best delicatessens, as well as in retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Harvey Nichols.

They already export to more than 22 countries across the globe, including several CPTPP members, and are looking forward to exploring the further exporting potential created by the UK’s accession to the trading bloc.

Alison Lea-Wilson at Halen Môn said:

Anything the UK government can do to help realise the huge potential of trading with CPTPP member states is to be welcomed. We already export to Japan and Singapore and see opportunities in Australia too.

We are delighted to be supplying a Japanese bakery ingredients company with our innovative oak smoked water. There is already a great relationship between Wales and Japan forged in part by rugby, seaweed and even leeks, and we look forward to building on it.

Membership is a gateway to the wider Indo-Pacific region, which has 60% of the world’s population and is set to account for the majority (54%) of global economic growth and around half of the world’s billion middle-class consumers in the decades ahead.

As a member of CPTPP, the UK will help influence and shape global rules for industries of the future like digital, data and services, and secure our place as a global leader in a network of countries committed to free trade.

The UK and CPTPP members will now take the final steps required for the UK to formally sign in 2023.

Link: Boost for Welsh businesses as UK strikes deal to join major free trade bloc in Indo-Pacific
Source: Assent Information Services

Green growth for Wales as UK government announces multi billion pound investment to boost UK energy independence

New jobs and investment are set to come to Wales as the UK Government today unveils ambitious plans to scale up affordable, clean, homegrown power and build thriving green industries in Britain.

After decades of reliance on importing expensive, foreign fossil fuels, the Government is delivering a radical shift in our energy system towards cleaner, more affordable energy sources to power more of Britain from Britain.

New green technologies, set to be developed and deployed here in the Wales including carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen, will spearhead the government’s new Energy Security Plan.

As part of this, Grant Shapps is announcing £160 million of new funding for pilot projects to build the port infrastructure needed to support further floating offshore wind, through the Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Scheme. This scheme will support investment in the infrastructure needed to meet the UK’s ambition of up to 5GW of floating offshore wind by 2030, supported by a substantial pipeline of potential projects in the Celtic sea.

Today, the UK Government confirmed Hanson Padeswood Cement Works carbon capture and storage project – based in the North Wales region – as one of eight projects to be taken forward to negotiations to form the basis of the UK’s new CCUS clusters.

This announcement follows the confirmation in the Spring Budget of £20 billion for CCUS, future-proofing jobs in the industrial heartlands, including the North Sea, contributing to a half a million new green jobs set to be created and supported across the country.

CCUS is a key pillar to the UK’s path to net zero – recognised by the independent Committee on Climate Change as a necessity – and the country’s geography means it has capacity to permanently store carbon emissions taken from our air deep underground and at sea.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

Thanks to our unique geography and strong expertise in clean technology, the UK is well placed to create thriving new industries in carbon capture, hydrogen and floating offshore wind across the country.

By investing in new ways to power Britain from Britain, we will not only strengthen our long-term energy security, but also deliver on our promise to grow the economy with well-paid jobs and opportunities for businesses to export their expertise around the world.

Energy Security and Net Zero Minister Graham Stuart said:

Wales will be at the heart of our plans to power up Britain, as we support its development of new home-grown technologies of the future.

Today’s announcement will create opportunities for welsh businesses to export their expertise around the world and set the standard for a clean, secure and prosperous future.

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said:

The UK Government’s Energy Security plan is ambitious and contains fantastic news for the whole of Wales. We know that there is huge potential in the Celtic Sea for floating offshore wind and we have the best sites for new nuclear developments.

The UK Government is supporting plans for the Celtic Sea to deliver enough clean, secure electricity for 4 million homes by 2035. Today we’ve announced £160m of government funding to kickstart investment in building the infrastructure in ports to allow them to deliver this innovative source of renewable energy.

The establishment of Great British Nuclear will support our ambition to ramp up nuclear capacity in the UK to a quarter of our energy demand by 2050. I am eager to see nuclear energy brought back to Wales and the development of a floating offshore wind industry, creating jobs, spreading growth and prosperity and securing our energy supply.

The UK Government has also set an ambition for 10GW of hydrogen production by 2030 – which could generate enough clean electricity to power all of London for a year.

Wales will be central to these plans, where one of the first successful applicants to the £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund will be located. Fifteen projects will be awarded grant funding of £37.9m to support the development and deployment of new low carbon hydrogen production plants. Hydrogen will play an important role in helping intensive industries such as chemicals, steel and cement convert to using clean energy.

The successful project is Statkraft’s Trecwn Green Hydrogen Valley project. It plans to build a 15MW electrolyser system to produce green hydrogen, using the region’s excellent wind and solar resources to produce a sustainable fuel for transport and other industrial application.

Alongside this, three companies based in Wales have been shortlisted to proceed to the next stage of the first electrolytic hydrogen Allocation round (HAR1).

These are:

  • RES and Octopus Green Hydrogen
  • Marubeni Europower
  • H2 energy and Trafigura

Today’s plans will help deliver on the Prime Minister’s promise to grow the economy across Wales, supporting new green jobs, creating a strategic advantage in new clean industries, and generating opportunities for Welsh businesses to export their expertise around the world.

Link: Green growth for Wales as UK government announces multi billion pound investment to boost UK energy independence
Source: Assent Information Services

Government launches campaign to help businesses drive down energy bills

  • New campaign will help businesses boost their energy efficiency, cut costs and increase their cashflow as government ads hit the airwaves from next week.
  • UK businesses, charities and other organisations to continue receiving energy bill support with energy and trade intensive industries expected to save around 20% on wholesale energy costs.
  • Comes as the Energy Price Guarantee continues to keep a typical household energy bill at around £2,500.

A new campaign to help businesses, charities and public sector bodies increase their energy efficiency and drive down bills by making simple changes at low-to-no cost has been launched by the UK government today.

The campaign, targeted at small and medium sized businesses, will offer guidance on how organisations can make significant savings while cutting emissions, from installing light and heating timers, to turning down boiler flow temperature and changing light bulbs.

Many organisations are already aware of ways to boost their energy efficiency and have put these measures into practice. However, a substantial number of businesses are missing out on huge potential savings, due to a lack of information on how to cut down on their energy costs.

For many companies, a 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom-line benefit as a 5% increase in sales. A new website will help organisations access simple, low-to-no cost advice, outlining a range of possible actions, from having better sight of current energy use to upgrading and modifying equipment.

Examples of businesses already benefiting from energy efficiency measures:

  • LED lighting allowed a carpark in Bedford to cut their average annual lighting costs by 50%. Lurke Street Multistorey Carpark installed lighting throughout their premises in 2017, replacing older, less energy efficient lighting. By installing a smart meter they were able to actively track and compare year-on-year savings – on average £50,000 per year – allowing them to build business cases for further investments.
  • Marlec Engineering, a wind turbine manufacturer in Corby, switched to energy saving lighting as part of a range of measures to make their business premises more energy efficient. The company replaced T8 Fluorescent lamps with new, energy saving LED tubes. The lighting did not reduce light levels in the office and achieved a 60% saving on lighting costs.

To make sure as many businesses as possible know about the campaign, it will be promoted through partnerships with the British Chambers of Commerce and Federation of Small Business and paid advertorial across TV, radio, social media and more.

It follows the launch of the government’s £18 million ‘It All Adds Up’ campaign last year. This provides similar advice for households, saving them hundreds on their energy bills, and saw UK sales of ‘draught protection products’ on eBay double shortly after the launch.

Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said:

Falling wholesale energy prices are welcome news, but this in no way changes our firm, long-term commitments to vastly boost UK energy efficiency across industry and households.

From today businesses, charities and public sector bodies can access helpful and practical advice on simple actions they can take to substantially reduce their energy use – and potentially increase profits.

Not only will this help lower operational costs by up to hundreds of thousands of pounds, but smarter energy use will help us deliver on our critical pledges to cut demand by 15% and reach net zero by 2050.

The new site also offers guidance on taking full advantage of the government’s range of energy support schemes available, such as the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, which offers a unit discount on bills, and the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which offers grants to help make installing heat pumps and biomass boilers as cheap as a gas boiler.

Adrian Dennis, Managing Director of Marlec Engineering, said:

Our business works with an absolute focus on sustainable energy solutions. We’ve invested in electric company cars and eco-friendly packaging. But upgrading to LED lighting is low-cost, and one of the simplest ways to promote sustainability in-house and save money on utility bills. We’d encourage other businesses to upgrade as well.

Energy Bills Discount Scheme

From today organisations across the country will start receiving money off their energy bills through the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme. It comes as wholesale gas prices are at levels not seen since before Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, with eligible UK businesses, charities, public sector bodies and others to receive the discount until 31 March 2024.

Customers do not need to apply for the universal discount, with suppliers automatically factoring it into the bills of all eligible non-domestic customers.

The new scheme replaces the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which by late March had paid out £5.6 billion – around £35 million a day to cut energy costs for businesses.

Minister for Energy Consumers and Affordability Amanda Solloway said:

This government will always be unapologetically pro-business. We’ve spent over £5 billion to protect against disruption to UK industry at the hands of Putin, saving many businesses around half on their wholesale energy costs this winter.

The new level of support offered today reflects a substantial drop in global energy prices – now at their lowest level since before Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

We will continue to firmly back UK industry and are making sure those unable to cut back on their energy use continue to be shielded.

Dhara Vyas, Deputy CEO at Energy UK, said:

Despite recent falls, wholesale gas prices are still high by historical standards, making this is a difficult time for businesses up and down the country. Energy suppliers are working with businesses to come up with innovative solutions that will help customers afford their bills while providing improved customer service and information. But high prices cannot be solved by industry alone, so we’re pleased government and industry have worked together to ensure delivery of this critical, extended support is on time. We particularly welcome the launch of a business energy campaign will help reduce bills now and protect against future crises.

Meanwhile, eligible energy and trade intensive industries will be able to apply for a higher level of support through a GOV.UK portal later this month. This is expected to save some businesses 20% of predicted wholesale energy costs.

Domestic heat networks will also receive a new, sector-specific support rate. This will make sure these customers do not face disproportionately higher energy bills under the Energy Bills Discount Scheme than those supported by the Energy Price Guarantee.

The discount is expected to be reflected in bills from May onwards, with support backdated to 1 April.

Minister Solloway met with Ofgem, energy suppliers and others earlier this week to discuss what more suppliers can do to help business customers fixed into long-term contracts at high prices – especially those in sectors currently facing challenges.

Non-Standard Cases

The government is today announcing further that non-domestic energy support will be extended and eligibility expanded to include customers receiving energy from non-licensed suppliers through the public electricity or gas grid.

These customers will be able to apply for Non-Standard Cases support under the Energy Bills Discount Scheme covering similar levels of energy costs from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024.

Non-Standard Cases support will also be expanded to include non-domestic customers who receive electricity or gas from license-exempt suppliers via private wire or pipe and where prices paid are pegged to wholesale energy prices. This wider group can apply for backdated support under the Energy Bill Relief Scheme as well as under the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme.

Further information about how eligible customers can apply will be provided on GOV.UK in due course.

Notes to editors:

Business Energy Efficiency campaign

Advice offered on the new government website will be continuously updated with sector-specific guidance, successful case studies and any new, relevant schemes. Key actions advised include:

  • Undertaking an energy review
  • Installing SMART meters
  • Reviewing tariffs
  • Installing light timers and changing lightbulbs
  • Timing heating and turning down boiler flow temperature

Energy Bills Discount Scheme

From today, all eligible non-domestic customers who have a contract with a licensed energy supplier will see a unit discount of up to £6.97/MWh applied to their gas bill and a unit discount of up to £19.61/MWh applied to their electricity bill.

This will be subject to a wholesale price threshold – £107/MWh for gas and £302/MWh for electricity. This means that businesses experiencing wholesale energy costs below this level will not receive support.

These businesses will receive a discount reflecting the difference between a price threshold and the relevant wholesale price. Some Energy and Trade Intensive Industries will receive a higher level of support. The price threshold for this element of the scheme will be £99/MWh for gas and £185/MWh for electricity. This discount will only apply to 70% of energy consumption and will be subject to a ‘maximum discount’ of £40.0/MWh for gas and £89.1/MWh for electricity.

The Energy Bill Discount Scheme will be delivered through regulations made under the Energy Prices Act 2022. The Regulations are expected to be made in late April 2023 and the scheme will not be finalised until they are made.

  • Further information on the Energy Bills Discount Scheme can be found here.
  • Further information on the Energy Price Guarantee can be found here.
  • Further information on the EBRS for Non Standard Cases can be found here [add link]
  • Further information on the Boiler Upgrade Scheme can be found here.
  • Improving the energy efficiency of homes is the best long-term method of tackling fuel poverty, and that’s why the government has committed over £6.6 billion in this parliament, with a further £6 billion committed to 2028.
  • The government last month announced the allocation of £1.8 billion to boost energy efficiency and cut emissions of homes and public buildings across England.

Energy Price Guarantee

Households will not feel the full force of Ofgem’s new Price Cap – at £3,280 from today –after the Government announced a three-month extension of the Energy Price Guarantee from April to the end of June – meaning the typical household bill will remain at the yearly equivalent of £2,500. The Guarantee protects customers from increases in energy costs by limiting the amount suppliers can charge per unit of energy.

The Guarantee is just one element of support offered by the government to household this winter, having stepped in to pay around half of the typical bill. Other support has included £400 payments towards bills through the Energy Bills Support Scheme. To date £5.5 billion has been paid out through the Energy Price Guarantee and £9.4 billion through the Energy Bills Support Scheme.

Link: Government launches campaign to help businesses drive down energy bills
Source: Assent Information Services