Speech to the Global Investment Conference

Gordon Brown

Feb. 24, 2010

A year ago the world came together in London to fight back against the global recession. A year on, it is not the G20's political leaders of the world we are hosting - but you, the business and investment leaders of the world.

Today is not about a partnership of governments, or a partnership of international business - but a partnership of international business and government. About how together we can lock in recovery and grasp the opportunities of the future.

We want this conference to help work out how to get global investment moving again. So as I look around I am proud that Britain is hosting a conference attended by 250 of the most senior representatives of the world's biggest brands, whose investment decisions will help to shape the global economic recovery.

Many of you are already investing in Britain. And I'm also proud to see here so many of the world's leading companies which have chosen the UK for their global headquarters.

In Britain, we are committed to financial stability and to restoring strong and sound public finances as the recovery gathers pace; we are committed to our decision as a nation to invest now for the long-term in the growth sectors of the future; and we are committed to creating the best possible environment in which private enterprise and wealth creators can thrive.

This is the heart of the growth plan we have set out for Britain.

A plan built on maintaining stability through low inflation and low interest rates; on re-establishing Britain as a low debt economy; and on our commitment - enshrined in law - to halve the deficit by 2014.

Indeed, we have already announced a range of tax measures that will kick in progressively as the economy recovers. And we have set out firm and tight limits on the growth in overall public spending.

Our plan is also founded on the guarantee that we will always support enterprise as the engine of economic growth. While the world has been rocked by the global recession, the march of science and the pace of technological change has not faltered.

So we know that for Britain, a prosperous future must be built not only on sound economics, but investment in the industries of the future, and leadership of the new science and engineering breakthroughs that are today shaping tomorrow's world.

Look around this country. You can already begin to see Britain's emerging strengths in the high growth, high skills industries on which our economy of the future is being built - and the talent and skill that Britain has to offer in many of these sectors.

Across a diverse range of industries, you can see vigour and inventiveness; you can see evidence of our commitment to innovation.

And despite the shockwaves of the last 18 months, we are committed to maintaining London's position as a world-leading financial centre - intent on remaining competitive and attracting and retaining the best talent.

I believe we have a world-class pedigree here in Britain, founded on strength and stability; on innovation and investment; and on enterprise and entrepreneurial spirit.

We are a world leader in life sciences. A fifth of the world's top-selling medicines were discovered and developed here.

We are becoming a world leader in renewables with the world's largest installed capacity of offshore wind electricity generation.

We are a world leader in advanced engineering - first in the development of plastic electronics.

We are a world leader in creative industries - over 300 designer businesses are in Britain right now for London fashion week.

We are a world leader in digital communications. In a country with just one per cent of the world's population, more than a third of all internet traffic is routed through UK servers.

We are a world leader in defence and security - the first to develop sophisticated detection technologies for chemical and explosive threats.

But to seize the full potential for growth and jobs from these emerging industries and technologies, I recognise that government must continue to operate in solid partnership with business.

Only private enterprise - supported by active government - has the capacity needed to realise our ambitions.

What business expects from this partnership is a government that will act strategically to modernise the country's infrastructure, green its energy and broaden its communications capacity;

A government that uses its massive procurement power intelligently to stimulate innovation and to underwrite R&D investment;

A government working in partnership with industry to help shoulder the financial and technology risks inherent in bold new enterprises;

And a government simplifying planning processes and maintaining stable and clear regulation to build the best possible environment in which to do business.

So we are prepared to invest up to £1 billion to bring next generation broadband to at least nine in 10 homes and businesses, with some seeing internet speeds up to 50 times faster than today. And the challenge I have set - the ambition I want to see achieved - is to extend this coverage of superfast broadband to 100 per cent of the population.

We are also exploiting the enormous potential of the internet itself to make life easier for business.

Through the brilliant work for Britain of Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt and the ‘making public data public' project, starting from today you will be able to pinpoint - at the click of a button - the locations where we are investing in centres of excellence and clusters of expertise across Britain.

We are investing £14 billion in our transport infrastructure this year alone double that of ten years ago. We are committed to expansion of Heathrow; to Crossrail for London, high speed rail and rail electrification; and to expanding capacity on our motorway network.

And a new independent body is now providing a streamlined planning system for key national infrastructure.

The UK currently has the lowest barriers to entrepreneurship. On average it costs just £20 to start a business here - compared to an average £382 in Europe. And the UK ranks top in Europe for ease of doing business. These are precious standards that we lose at our peril. We must not only maintain them, but develop them.

So to support innovation we are introducing our ‘patent box' which will reduce corporation tax to 10 per cent on all income stemming from patents secured in the UK.

Our new £325 million innovation investment fund - launched as part of building Britain's future - also shows our commitment to the industries and the technologies that will create the skilled jobs of the future.

This fund, seeded by government, is bringing private venture capital to growing enterprises. It is already providing £125 million of funding to high-tech, low carbon businesses and from today a further £200 million will be available for life sciences, digital and advanced manufacturing.

We recognise the importance of the business community to this country and will reflect that when reviewing, revising and developing business tax policy.

So as part of our commitment to build relationships with investors - the Chancellor is today issuing the first ever ‘tax framework for business' setting out the principles which will guide our policy - including competitiveness, fairness, simplicity, stability and certainty.

And because we know that your investment in Britain creates growth and jobs here, we will help to simplify visa application processes in some cases.

We also have for the first time from today an ‘investors charter' setting out our commitments to you to help you grow your business globally from a UK base - including creating a skilled workforce so you have the best talent on tap - and the broadest possible talent pool to choose from.

In the last ten years inward investment has helped employ over 800,000 of our workforce: 11,300 inward investment projects have created more than 400,000 jobs and safeguarded over 410,000 more. Businesses from 53 countries are now backing and growing projects in every region of the country.

Even during the recession we last year attracted more than 30 overseas investment projects every week - in total worth £50 billion and which created 35,000 jobs.

I respect that you make hard-headed decisions. You don't come just because it's a nice place to live; you come to Britain because it makes business sense. So I am proud to say that Britain is the first choice country in Europe for foreign investment, rivalled in the world only by America.

And I am delighted to welcome further investment today from Microsoft, which has appointed imperial college as the lead academic partner for its innovation outreach program that will help us all identify technical or business solutions to future problems long before they are upon us.

I'm confident that more announcements and other commitments to invest - worth many hundreds of millions of pounds - will follow.

These will of course create and protect many thousands of jobs - not just as a direct result of the investment but also through the supply chain.

So this support is crucial not only to the UK economy as a whole, nor even to the specific sector your business operates in, but potentially to every single family in this country. And I want today to say thank you. Thank you for your faith in Britain which we will honour. Thank you for confidence in Britain which we will repay. Thank you for supporting Britain which we will return in support for you.

Gordon Brown is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

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