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Developing our region’s international activity

The extent to which Yorkshire & Humber’s businesses interact with international markets has a significant impact on the region’s overall economic success. Development in this area stimulates performance and productivity more quickly than almost any other kind of economic intervention, and delivers a high return on investment.

This page tells you about our International Business policy. To find out about the support we deliver in this area, please refer to our pages on international business development.

What are Yorkshire Forward’s objectives?

  • To attract, retain and embed foreign direct investment (FDI) into our region by overseas-owned companies (40% of our largest employers are now foreign-owned)
  • To promote more international trade, joint ventures & strategic alliances by the region’s businesses in key overseas markets, delivering a year-on-year improvement in both the value and quality of activity.

Why do we encourage FDI?

  • Foreign direct investment (by overseas companies) helps UK firms to adopt new technologies at a faster rate, with foreign firms providing knowledge spill-overs because they conduct a considerable amount of R&D in the UK(1)
  • A recent study found that the FDI firms among Yorkshire’s top 150 businesses produced higher-than-average growth, out-performing indigenous firms in their ability to move faster than the market and to achieve sustainable economic growth(2)
  • Over the last 20 years, the UK has remained the number-one location for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe, and we want to ensure that Yorkshire & Humber attracts its share
  • FDI is a highly effective economic intervention and delivers excellent value for money. For every £1 we invested in FDI in 2006-07, we generated over £146 of return.

Why do we encourage overseas trade/export?

  • Developing overseas trade and export enables our businesses—and therefore our region—to become more competitive, more stable, and more able to withstand local economic shocks
  • Our interventions deliver excellent value for money: for every £1 we invested in trade in 2006-07, we generated over £17 in increased export revenue.

How do we achieve our objectives?

Our international policy is delivered via three key strands of activity:
1: Foreign direct investment

Our objectives here are to increase the number of Yorkshire Forward-involved FDIs; increase the number of knowledge-based businesses investing in our region; and encourage private-sector investment. We plan to do this by:

  • Actively promoting our region’s priority-sector offerings in Europe, America and key emerging markets in the Far East
  • Maintaining a network of sector specialists to promote our regional offering
  • Focusing on better integration of trade, inward investment and investor-development programmes
  • Strategically leading the region’s approach with UKTI, nationally and internationally
  • Working closely with local authorities, chambers of commerce, UKTI, universities and sector representatives to co-ordinate inward investment and to pursue opportunities
  • Developing strategic alliances nationally and internationally and establishing a network of key intermediaries, including ‘Yorkshire ambassadors’.
2: Trade

Our objective is to ensure that regional businesses, especially in the priority sectors, are able to exploit overseas markets. Although the region’s exports increased by 50% from £8bn to £12bn between 2000 and 2006 (a 43% increase compared to England’s overall increase of 33%), the region could perform better in international markets. We plan to do this by:

  • Taking a strategic lead with UKTI to improve the global competitiveness of our region’s businesses and ensure that UKTI activity incorporates our priorities
  • Enhancing the delivery of programmes through the new Business Link Yorkshire service
  • Developing a more targeted approach to our interventions, through a restructured Targeted Export Support Scheme (TESS)
  • Increasing awareness of the market opportunities involving exporting, especially in managing supply chains
  • Working with regional partners to co-ordinate trade activity and avoid fragmentation, and to maximise appropriate business penetration.
3: Investor development

Our goal is to actively engage the region’s top 600 strategic companies and partners by 2009; intensively assisting key businesses, creating and safeguarding jobs, and generating private-sector investment.

Only 4% of the businesses in Yorkshire & Humber employ over 250 people, but they account for over 40% of employment and half of the region’s GDP. Therefore, their investment and restructuring decisions can have a significant impact on our economy. Our objective is to work closely with these companies to influence decisions before they happen, providing a structured approach to dealing with economic shocks; ensuring that investors are embedded in the region; and assisting in areas which impact on productivity, such as sustainability and CSR (this is particularly important, since nearly 40% of our largest regional employers are now foreign-owned, and therefore more mobile). We will do this by:

  • Taking the strategic lead in the ongoing implementation of a structured key account management (KAM) programme to encourage reinvestment by our largest companies
  • Targeting our resources in areas where we know we’re in stiff competition for investment
  • Aligning our activity to a structured international policy, to secure new investment and expansions
  • Maintaining a business intelligence system on major companies, and facilitating strategic relationships between them, local authority partners and Yorkshire Forward
  • Taking the lead role with UKTI on the international investor development programme
  • Analysing policy issues affecting business development, influencing national policy and maximising investment opportunities for the region.

Who delivers our work in this area?

Our FDI work is managed by Yorkshire Forward’s core international team, co-ordinating with our offices in Japan and China and external consultants in Europe, the USA/Canada and key emerging markets. Regional trade delivery is through international trade advisers, via a joint UKTI/Yorkshire Forward contract with Business Link. Investor development is delivered through the Yorkshire Forward KAM team, leading on the top 200 companies and co-ordinating with local authority partners on 400 additional accounts.

The Facts

  • International trade currently accounts for 20% of Yorkshire & Humber’s GDP
  • In 2006/07, we delivered an 89% increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) to the region
  • In the same period, every £1 we invested in trade and FDI in the region generated over £17 in increased export revenue and over £146 in FDI
  • The region’s exports increased by 50% from £8bn to £12bn between 2000 and 2006
  • Over the last 20 years, the UK has remained the number-one location for FDI in Europe.