Britain's CBI calls for export boost

21st November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's biggest employers group on Monday urged the government to help boost exports, especially to emerging markets, so as to drive a struggling economic recovery hit by the eurozone debt crisis.

The Confederation of British Industry began its annual conference with a call for the coalition government to champion exports -- and also help the private sector meet the difficult challenges of soaring youth unemployment.

Later Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Turkish President Abdullah Gul all address the conference.

"Today we are focussing on the critical driver of growth: exports," said CBI President Roger Carr in an opening speech to delegates.

"Our message is the urgent need to prospect and build in new growth markets rather than continue to harvest the traditional -- and currently less fertile -- markets of our close neighbours."

The powerful lobby group is focussing on a so-called "Plan A+" that is centred on securing private-sector growth.

"In the six months of my presidency, the challenges have become larger but my conviction as to the way ahead has remained unwavering," Carr said.

"The appetite for bad news by the prophets of doom has been well fed by the eurozone crisis, a stuttering recovery in the USA, fears of stagnation in the West and inflation in the East.

"In truth, we are witnessing a fundamental shift in the balance of world economies," added Carr, who is also chairman of energy group Centrica.

The CBI wants the government to help improve Britain's poor trade performance with a raft of proposals that would lift gross domestic product by an estimated £20 billion by 2020.

Measures include achievable performance targets for high-growth markets, the breaking down of domestic barriers and improved access to export finance.

The CBI wants the government to match the European Union's average of one-in-four small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) exporting by 2020. That compares with Britain's current level of one in five.

Turning to the domestic economy, the CBI said its plan would seek to combat soaring youth unemployment, while it also welcomed the government's latest moves to boost home loan lending and the nation's weak housing market.

"Importantly, it (the plan) will provide jobs and we must all find ways of training, engaging and addressing the unacceptably high level of youth unemployment that haunts the country today," Carr said.

"Solving this problem is a social imperative and a business responsibility, and one which we must shoulder."

The CBI is proposing a "Young Britain Credit" scheme, whereby funds are made available to employers that take on inexperienced 16-24 year-olds.

Gloomy data showed last week that the number of unemployed 18-24-year-olds in Britain jumped 67,000 to 1.02 million in the three months to September, the highest total since comparable records began 19 years ago.

© 2011 AFP

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