Minister for Trade Policy Penny Mordaunt writes for BUSINESSiQ, telling us how she is spreading the word in America about the North East success story

FROM its world-beating manufacturing and shipbuilding industries to its focus on using culture to drive economic revival, the North East of England shares many similarities with the US.

That’s why as Minister for Trade Policy, I am going state to state in the US to bang the drum for the North East’s incredible local industries.

I’ll be meeting governors, local representatives, commissioners and businesses in each state to discuss priority areas to boost trade between the UK’s regions and US states, including some twinned cities: Atlanta (with Newcastle) and Columbia (with Sunderland) as well as California, South Carolina, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Making progress on state-level agreements will not only knock down barriers to trade, but also help drive investment, jobs and growth in our regions. We want to increase cooperation in areas such as digital, services and agriculture, and make it easier for our highly skilled professionals, such as lawyers and engineers, to go and work 'across the pond'.


The US and the North East of England already have a deep trade and investment relationship – with big American brands like Nike and tech firms like Saggezza creating jobs by setting up offices in the region.

Recent analysis shows 60% of UK jobs for US-owned companies are now outside London and the South East, with more than 700 companies in the North East exporting to the States.

This is all good news for our levelling-up agenda, creating 179,000 jobs in the North East and North West and helping stimulate economic growth and prosperity in the region.

In fact, between 1997 and 2019, the North East saw an enormous increase in the number of US-owned local businesses – a jump of more than 180% - whilst employment within these businesses increased 84%.

Stokesley-based bespoke horse bit manufacturer Neue Schule is a great example of an export success story who sell to the States. They entered the US market less than ten years ago, and today it accounts for about one in four of their sales.

Home to iconic British brands like Barbour and Magnet kitchen designers, the North East is also proudly flying the Union flag when it comes to making things the rest of the world wants. Demand across the Atlantic has never been higher and in 2020, the North East exported goods worth £1.1billion across the Atlantic.

The number one export to the US last year was medical and pharma products as the North East becomes a hotspot for the UK’s burgeoning healthcare and life sciences industry. It’s also fast becoming a leader in clean growth, with companies like Cummins seeing its potential for green technology and investing £14.6million in Darlington to develop carbon-free hydrogen engines.

When it comes to services, the region’s financial centre is thriving, with exports of financial and insurance activities from the North East to the US reaching nearly £650m in 2019.

The Northern Echo: Cummins is investing £14.6million in DarlingtonCummins is investing £14.6million in Darlington

There’s no doubt, the North East has even more export potential to tap into. That’s why we recently launched our new ‘Made in the UK, Sold to the World’ plan, to help businesses across the North East double their exports and sell their world-class products around the globe.

This includes our dedicated Export Support Service that offers a one-stop shop for exporting advice, and the launch of a new UK Tradeshow Programme better-tailored to help regional businesses to attend and promote their products around the world.

When I’m travelling from state to state I will be promoting the best that businesses across the North East have to offer. Encouraging more trade, investment and exports is a sure-fire way to help level up this country, transforming the UK into a high-skill, high-wage, high-productivity economy. So, what are we waiting for!


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