Redefining the UK international trade strategy post-Brexit

Aug 31, 2017

Moving beyond the much-debated structure of the Brexit agreement, the UK now has trade opportunities that should not be ignored or underestimated.

How will the UK will redefine its international trade strategy post-Brexit? Experts recommend a balanced portfolio approach that will open the door to trade opportunities in high-growth economies. In a recent analysis of emerging markets, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates $23 trillion in climate-smart infrastructure investment opportunities until 2030. China has the largest potential share at $15 trillion--seven times more than the next largest market in India at $2.1 trillion—while growth in Latin American countries and Southeast Asia offer an additional $3.3 trillion combined.

Sweet Spots for Post-Brexit Success

The UK government is targeting opportunities that align needs in the developing world to the capabilities of UK companies with initiatives like the £1.3 billion Prosperity Fund and £5.8 billion International Climate Fund. In support of this work, ICF’s recent Low-Carbon Energy Study explores the sweet spots where UK capabilities and market opportunities meet, hoping to achieve a good return on public investment, demonstrate value to tax payers, create stronger exports, and fulfill the commitment to sustainable development worldwide.

Focusing on key emerging markets and UK strengths in energy and low-carbon services, the UK market access could be worth £2.5-£3.2 billion by 2020 and £12.5-£16 billion by 2030. These figures are based on modest growth in the UK share of related financial, technical and professional services, an export market it already leads.

uk market climate services

Emerging market opportunities are also a means for the UK to generate sustainability benefits that will help end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Without affordable, secure access to clean energy, improving the welfare of the poor is virtually impossible. Sustainable energy and infrastructure have a direct positive impact across many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and deliver cost-effective emissions reductions to help countries meet their Paris Agreement commitments. 

‘Through-Brexit’ Strategy Does It All

Sir David King hosted a roundtable with sustainability experts about the findings in ICF’s Low-Carbon Energy Study, prompting a lively discussion about what role the UK should play in global low-carbon development. Focusing on emerging economies is an important part of the ‘through-Brexit’ strategy. In fact, given the scale of energy and climate work needed in emerging markets, if the UK taps the right opportunities for its services, advice, and expertise, economic growth will mean support for sustainable development and an improved balance of payments. A clear win-win.

uk energy markets
By Neal Mehta
Manager, Energy and Climate
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