Andrew Mitchell, Director General of the Department for International Trade, has visited the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Executive Dr Ian Kelly and stakeholder partners to explore how international trade support for local businesses in the Humber will look in the future.
DIT/HEY LEP International Partnership Manager Andrew Finch organised the meeting which the Chamber hosted at its Hull HQ to review how to help businesses grow back into exporting activity after the global Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.
Dr Kelly welcomed the Government’s top International Trade civil servant who had previously been Ambassador to Sweden, as well as the lead for UK trade with Europe, to the Hull and Humber region and highlighted the Chamber’s historic work taking more than 100 trade missions and exhibitions to market and generating more than £150m worth of income for businesses in global markets on behalf of the fourth largest trading estuary in Europe.
Other private sector partners at the meeting included Pansena working at the Saltend site with Ineos and other renewables businesses to bring a new “rare earth raw materials” capability to the Humber as part of our growing renewable energy capability. Similarly local authority partners Hull City Council and ERYC were also on hand as well as HEY LEP and University of Hull AURA colleagues to explore the exciting opportunities coming to the Humber region.
Andrew Mitchell recognised the rapidly expanding role of the Humber for inward investment on both banks of the river which the new “Opportunities Humber” organisation being created by Cabinet Minister Michael Gove to take over from the HEY LEP and others, in co-ordinating the work of inward investment, marketing and international trade as part of the Government’s new Levelling Up proposals and Devolution agenda.
The Government’s additional proposals for a Freeport for the Humber were also discussed, along with the need to connect the work of Opportunities Humber with the newly emerging Humber Energy Board to be chaired by Richard Gwilliam of Drax plc (also a Chamber board member). The move comes as HEY LEP begins a process of merging into the two North Bank local authorities as part of the parallel devolution agenda outlined by Michael Gove recently in his White Paper.
All partners agreed to work to ensure businesses were given the best chance to get back into international trade and attract new inward investment to best effect. These supply chain issues were highlighted by the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, when he spoke to the Chamber recently on the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine.