Jonathan Reynolds MP on Labour's vision for business and trade - with LatAm

  • Freddy Nevison-Andrews

On 29 February, Canning House was delighted to host Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade, for a Business Breakfast.

Jonathan Reynolds MP on Labour's vision for business and trade - with LatAm

On 29 February, Canning House was delighted to host Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade, for a Business Breakfast.

Attended by a mixture of senior businesspeople, diplomats and government officials, this roundtable breakfast offered an opportunity to hear from the Shadow Secretary of State on a prospective Labour government’s vision for the UK’s business and trade strategies, and their impact on its relationship with Latin America.

Jonathan began with an emphasis on the task facing any incoming UK government, with a general election highly likely to take place this year. He focused in particular on the British economy, highlighting factors including the UK’s standard of living, public services, tax burden and labour productivity.

From Labour’s perspective, he said, the solution to those challenges starts with a focus on economic growth. To that end, Jonathan described his close work with Rachel Reeves MP, the Shadow Chancellor, to map a possible Labour government’s route to overcoming what he called “an historic challenge.”

Within a wider context of a push towards net zero; navigating the UK’s post-Brexit business and trade landscape; and a changing global trade environment encompassing the US’ Inflation Reduction Act and its relations with China; Jonathan put forward that success is determined by success on precisely these such issues – but that there is no “magic lever.”

Instead, Jonathan said the UK must make changes “across the board,” with an overarching plan defined by ambition, growth and stability. Under a Labour government, that would include changes to planning law, and implementation of an industrial strategy designed for sustained investment and productivity growth. He expressed his feeling that only an incoming government – with substantial political capital – could drive such changes through effectively.

Jonathan Reynolds MP at Canning House's Business Breakfast

Speaking on Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, Jonathan argued that the Party’s recent dropping of its former headline £28bn figure left it in a more “sensible” position – with interest rate rises in recent years making that specific number a burden – but that at its core, plans for public investment to spur private investment, through initiatives like GB Energy and the Warm Homes Plan, remain in place.

On trade, Jonathan reasoned that, while the UK can continue to work on trade agreements of substantive interest, it also needs to upgrade its trade infrastructure, to best provide support for trading businesses.

Amidst a broader orientation of UK foreign policy towards economic relationships under a Labour government, Jonathan assured that Latin America is “on our list.” As a region where the UK is underpowered relative to its huge potential, and one that is leading the way particularly on critical environmental issues, he recognised that the UK can certainly do more to work together with Latin America.

Discussion then opened to questions and comments from the roundtable. These addressed topics including the machinery of government in its interaction with business and trade; freeports and other industrial investment schemes; the attractiveness of the London Stock Exchange; the UK’s navigation of trade disputes, with a particular focus on food and drink industries; blockchain technology within industrial strategy; the UK’s trade with Mexico; and Ecuador’s ambitions for trade in sustainably-produced products.

Canning House thanks Jonathan for his participation in this Business Breakfast; and our attendees for their engagement and interest.

In March, Canning House will hear from Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for Trade Policy and Minister for London, at our next Canning House Business Breakfast.

For more information on this Business Breakfast, or any of our other events, please get in touch.

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