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  • Writer's pictureSteven Lynch

"Maximizing Trade and Investment Opportunities: A Strategic Roadmap for the Next 5 Years in the East"

The global economy has slowed since the financial crisis and has been further impacted in recent years by a series of unprecedented shocks, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. This has affected Trade and Investment in the East leading to a widening trade deficit and a fall in Foreign Direct Investment.

However, despite this the East of England has very strong trading relationships with the rest of the world. The Eastern coastline is situated at one of the closest points to mainland Europe and a natural trading partner to the EU. Felixstowe, the largest container port in the UK, shifts over ten thousand units daily, connecting our region and the UK to 700 other ports around the world.

An effective regional platform is required to expand the East of England’s global footprint, activating inward investment opportunities and exporting incredible local products and services around the world.

The East of England Trade and Investment Platform. Working with local government and business to promote the East to the rest of the world. The East of England Trade and Investment Programme will stimulate trade and promote investment opportunities. The Programme will work ‘hand in glove’ with the Department of Business and Trade (DBT) to provide:

Expert advice on export finance and regulation.

An investment portfolio that advertises specific, investment-ready projects, will make sure opportunities are front and centre for international investors. The East needs to promote the most exciting capital investment opportunities for investors and highlight potential major infrastructure projects that are needed.

Global Trade missions promoting the East in key markets around the world.

An Export Council for the East. This would bring together key stakeholders, including elected Mayors, with the government and UK Export Finance to devise a regional export strategy. The Council will attract prospective investors and connect to ‘account managers’ at the Dearment for Business and Trade who can assist with planning, visas, financing and other delivery-critical factors, such as jumping the queue for grid connections and fast-track planning approvals.

East of England International Trade Summit. Championed by a Regional Minister the East should host an Annual Trade Summit hosted in Cambridge to attract inward missions from global markets. Particular attention should be paid to recent Free Trade Agreements and alignment with major trading blocks. The objective is to link key regional clusters and specialisms as part of a regional export strategy.

As noted by Lord Harrington in The Harrington Review of Foreign Direct Investment - GOV.UK (, “Areas of the UK are best placed to identify their own sectors of strength, but central government needs to take an active role in supporting and endorsing local differentiation. Central government should do this by partnering with and promoting areas based on in-depth analysis of strengths and an understanding that not all sectors in all regions can attract central support. This will involve challenging decisions about priority sectors in each local area.”


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