Rebalancing the Economy: Trade and Investment - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Written evidence from the City of London Corporation


1.  This memorandum is submitted on behalf of the City Corporation in the context of its role in promoting and reinforcing the competitiveness of the UK-based international financial services sector. The City Corporation has extensive engagement with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Trade and Investment, as part of this promotional work, both to support UK based financial and professional services firms to develop business in overseas markets, and to attract enhanced levels of inward investment into the Square Mile, London and the UK as a whole. As a large economic generator for the UK economy, the City of London would wish to see continued emphasis placed on the promotion of the sector.

2.  The City Corporation is not in a position to respond fully to all the questions posed in the Committee's Call for Evidence but the following paragraphs reflect the City Corporation's views on matters of particular interest to the City's activities.


3.  BIS in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provide a pivotal role in stimulating export development and inward investment; through UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). The City interacts extensively with UKTI with regard to the promotion of the UK based financial services industry and the attraction of financial and professional services firms to the UK.

4.  Each visit programme is delivered in market by UKTI staff based in the Embassy and Consulate network, with the aim to increase the profile of the UK based financial services industry in overseas markets (predominately high growth markets), promoting business development opportunities for UK based firms and influence senior interlocutors to increase market access for UK based firms. The UK's Embassy and Consulate network provides a valuable and high profile point of contact for overseas firms looking to invest in the UK and posts form an essential tool in facilitating access to firms to discuss and encourage their inward investment plans. UKTI is well placed within central government to work with other departments on issues that affect inward investment into the UK and this can be extremely valuable.

5.  In addition to the trade promotion work undertaken in tandem with UKTI, the City further supports the delivery of inward investment services to assist foreign firms from the financial and related business services sector set up or expand in London and the UK. This includes working with firms that have been identified as targets by UKTI staff based in the overseas Embassy and Consulate network which, in turn, are usually referred to the City from the UKTI inward investment team based in London. The City then provides prospective investors with a range of services including market intelligence (research reports) detailing the UK based financial and professional services industry and facilitates introductions to relevant contacts in the sector.

6.  Effective and well-resourced UKTI teams are, therefore, essential to the successful delivery of the visits. To this end, the City of London runs an annual "Industry briefing course" for overseas based representatives from UKTI, who have a role in promoting the industry within their geographic remit. The week long course arms UKTI staff with a core understanding of the UK based financial and professional services industry and its role in support of the broader economy, with a view to increasing the effectiveness of its promotion.


7.  UKTI overseas based staff play a pivotal role in the identification of export and investment opportunities in both emerging and established markets. The overseas post network provides valuable intelligence on changes in regulation, legislation and economic developments throughout the globe. The City Corporation on behalf of the financial and professional services community, and with a view to maximising efficiency of resources, would welcome the ability to tap more easily into this flow of relevant information. For example, there is considerable value added to business promotion by high quality economic reporting. It is desirable therefore that economic and trade intelligence amassed by Posts should have a wider distribution than it currently receives.

8.  The City Corporation believes that overseas posts need to retain a strong focus on promoting British business in terms of both attracting enhanced levels of foreign direct investment and identifying and supporting trade development opportunities. Overseas posts need to continue to be staffed and resourced with a high calibre of staff, with the ability to break down market access issues and set them in the wider politico-economic context as the UK seeks to stimulate a trade driven recovery.

9.  High level engagement at post on business issues by Political and Economic staff - including Heads of Mission - adds immense value to the UK's trade promotion. The City Corporation is greatly encouraged by signs of such engagement among many of those currently occupying Head of Mission and other senior roles, and hopes that the "new commercial diplomacy" will reinforce this focus.


10.  Business Ambassadors have a valuable role to play in promoting the UK in terms of attracting enhanced levels of investment into the UK and promoting the export capabilities of UK firms. There role is of particular importance in markets, where long standing relationships need to be fostered.

11.  The Lord Mayor acts as de facto ambassador for the UK based Financial and Professional Services industry and, during his year of office, will travel to around 25 overseas markets and 36 cities promoting the industry. On each visit the Lord Mayor is accompanied by a business delegation chosen to reflect issues relevant to the host country. The business group comprises senior practitioner level members.


12.  It is often difficult to measure the immediate effect of trade development activities, especially in overseas markets where the development of relationships is key, prior to the delivery of business contracts.

13.  Similarly, it is difficult to measure the immediate impact of the Lord Mayor's Overseas Visit programme in terms of business developed and contracts awarded. Their strategic benefit is, however, indicated by the continued interest from participating companies to be involved in the visits programme and by feedback from Posts.

January 2011

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Prepared 19 July 2011