Brexit: UK 'must focus trade on CPTPP regions' says Habib
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Discussing Britain opportunities for trade following Brexit, Mr Habib told a meeting of the Bruges Group that the UK’s future lay in the parts of the world which have seen booming growth in recent years. He insisted on the likes of Australia and Japan were where Brexit Britain should be doing business, not within the European Union. The former MEP also praised reports that International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is moving the UK toward entering the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Ben Habib said: “Our trade with the countries that are members of the CPTPP has gone up eight per cent per annum each year since 2016.
“Our trade with the EU is decreasing, the growth is in that region.
“South-East Asia, Australia and Japan and of course obviously Africa and South America.
“These are the regions where we should be using our British trading flair to establish relationships.”
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“Because that is where the growth is, the growth ain’t in Germany,” he continued.
“I mean Germany or France, they are up against it.”
It comes amid reports the UK is in talks with a United Arab Emirates (UAE) sovereign wealth fund as part of ultra-lucrative plans worth hundreds of millions of pounds that would “turbocharge” the British life sciences industry.
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The Life Sciences Investment Programme would see the UK Government commit £200million, with this then being matched with up to £400million in external financing that would either be invested directly into firms in the sector or via existing biotech funds managed by specialist managers.
Government officials have been locked in talks with a $232billion (£168billion) state-owned investment company called Mubadala, according to several people close to the negotiations, in the search for Gulf-based sovereign wealth to provide funding.
Talks have progressed to an advanced stage, but a person close to Mubadala said such a deal was quite possible, “but just one option, down the road”.
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One person close to the ongoing talks said the huge sovereign wealth investment would “turbocharge” the new life sciences strategy, but added the fund was not dependent on securing Middle Eastern cash.
A number of UK-based departments have been involved in the talks, including the Treasury, the business department, the state-backed British Business Bank and the recently formed Office for Investment.
A Treasury spokesperson said: “We remain committed to providing £200million funding to the Life Sciences Investment Programme, to unlock additional investment in our world-leading life sciences sector.”
The UAE has a long history of making lucrative investments into the UK, including the London Array offshore wind farm and London Gateway, which is run by Dubai’s state-owned ports operator, DP World.
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