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Make trade and investment a team sport

UK Trade. The New Agenda.

10 August 2021

In our first report we set a four-point agenda for change; this report is the final in the series, and picks up on one of the action points: the need for the UK to play to make trade and investment a team sport.

The UK and the world have been, and still are, facing a health, economic and climate crisis. There is an urgent need to address disparities across regions and countries, in particular in healthcare and technology, and this will be key in determining the speed of the recovery.

During the pandemic, countless examples have sprung up of organisations from across the public and private sector going the extra mile, together. But perhaps the stand out example of collaboration has been the COVID-19 vaccine. This has involved new partnerships, combining public and private investments, creating new global supply chains, navigating regulatory requirements, and standing up complex logistics networks to support the vaccination programme.

It is this kind of collaboration, this team spirit, that our clients have told us could make a material difference to the UK’s trade and investment performance. Trade and investment needs a collective response between the public and the private sector, businesses large and small, between the industrial and financial communities, between the education sector and employers, between regions, and between Westminster, local government and the devolved authorities.

Together, we can show that trade and investment is best played as a team sport.

Picture of town by river with bridge, taken from above

Five success factors

The race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is a model for how effectively organisations can collaborate to solve seemingly impossible challenges. It is also a formula for success noted by everyone from the public to our clients, and beyond. The UK must take the opportunity to learn from this, and from other successful collaborations between the public and private sector, as it gets behind the need for an economic recovery.

We believe there are five key factors for success.

1. Agree priorities on a national and regional level

Successful collaborations have a common purpose, strong insistence on a whole systems approach, shared responsibility, and show clear benefits for business and society.

2. A true partnership between business and government

A true partnership may require substantial behavioural change. However, all parties are able to make a significant contribution by working together - businesses can supply the innovation, capital and expertise to achieve these goals, whilst the Government can reduce red tape and incentivise businesses to support a thriving economy.

3. Regulation responding to what businesses need

The commitment by regulators to fast track vaccine candidates was an essential component in securing rapid access to successful vaccines and in reducing the risk, to companies and the Government, when entering into substantial financial commitments.

4. End to end supply chain management

With the emergence of new ecosystems and supply chains in the wake of COVID-19, there is a need for the Government to continue to invest and collaborate in order to achieve the outcomes that society expects and needs. Trade and investment is also proven to boost productivity and there's a positive consequential impact for innovation and improvements to supply chains.

5. Skills

The UK must ensure it continues to provide a world class talent base. Businesses must also look to build and develop opportunities to support the skills and talent needed for our priority areas, across all of the regions. Attracting the best talent from overseas will also be key.

Contact us

Matthew Alabaster

Matthew Alabaster

Partner, Strategy&, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7866 727124

Claire Reid

Claire Reid

Regional Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7734 607594

Matthew Hammond

Matthew Hammond

Midlands Region Leader & Birmingham Senior Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7725 069181

Julie Leonard

Julie Leonard

Director, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7213 2876

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