As the business champion of the region I am delighted to welcome our participants, both local and British, to our GREAT Mega Mission 2014.
The nine markets of our region have 110 million consumers, and offer the potential to double exports from the UK to the region by 2020. It is a fast developing region, showing growth rates comparable to emerging markets much further away from the UK. EU membership has secured billions in structural funds to modernise transport and social infrastructure; upgrade utilities, including water and the region’s disparate gas and electricity networks; provide education and skills to increasingly aspirational local populations; and develop new and competitive industries building on traditional strengths.
These factors have created huge opportunities for partnerships between regional businesses and governments with British businesses able to offer the products, services and expertise required. Whether these are engineering and construction companies, UK financial services experts or healthcare suppliers, to name just a few key industries, there are British companies willing and able to engage with businesses across this exciting region. These are some of the many reasons why we believe UK companies should be doing more business in this part of Europe.
British companies are some of the most innovative and entrepreneurial in the world and, with the support of the UK Government, can be the perfect partners to help aspiring businesses in the region reach their full potential and reap the benefits of international trade.
I hope all of our guests and participants will be able to benefit from the exciting series of briefings, events and networking opportunities we have planned throughout this mission, and that the initial exchanges and conversations will soon materialise in good business for all parties. So a very warm welcome to all, and let’s use this opportunity to remind ourselves that business is truly GREAT!