I and my fellow director, Rin Nitta, have recently returned from a trip to Japan to conduct a joint seminar with the Tokyo Dai-Ichi Bar Association on the impacts of Brexit on UK law, including potential changes to the immigration system as well as employment law. Whilst in Tokyo, we were also able to hold an exclusive meeting with two of our contacts at the British Embassy.
They were keen to reassure us that not only are the UK and Japan governments working closely on achieving a trade deal, but also that the UK is actively taking steps to promote the fact that it is still very much “open for business”. The UK remains a key market place as well as being a centre for innovation and business development. In addition, despite there needing to be new arrangements negotiated with the EU, the UK will still aim to be an attractive proposition for those looking to export to Europe and the rest of the world.
Some of the specific factors that the Embassy spoke to us about that may be of interest to those businesses looking to expand or establish themselves in the UK, included:
- An additional proposed £34 billion of funding by 2023 for the NHS – this gives significant potential opportunities to those companies in the pharmaceutical and medical science sectors, including those in the manufacturing of specialist medical equipment as well as technology companies working on AI and other approaches to offer high-tech solutions to the medical profession.
- Intention to increase the value of Research and Development in the UK from 1.7% of GDP to 2.4% by 2027.
- According to some analyses, the UK has the third highest number of unicorns (private companies with a value in excess of US$1b) in the world – and almost as many as the rest of Europe combined. The Embassy emphasised that the UK is a fertile ground for venture capital and start-up companies, and following Brexit there will of course be an intention to maintain the UK’s desirability in this area.
- The UK proposes to designate 10 new free ports, which will offer substantial relaxations of tax and customs rules for companies located within the ports – which may be for import/export as well as manufacturing, for example.
- There is currently a Smart City pilot operating in Bristol which, if successful, may see a greater roll-out of technology and AI in cities across the UK. Bristol was named Britain’s smartest city in the UK Smart Cities Index, published by Huawei and Navigant Consulting in 2017. Some initiatives include connecting smart traffic lights with emergency services to improve response times, as well as heat-sensitive cameras to monitor if people have fallen into the harbour. With big ambitions for growth of its technological capabilities, gathering and use of data, together with an ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050, there is significant scope for innovative companies to build on Bristol’s vision by offering technological advancements to councils across the UK.
As always, 3CS stands ready to assist its clients in making the most of the UK as a destination for business. Offering comprehensive legal and commercial advice, available in multiple languages, we help to minimise the distraction of legal issues for our clients so they can focus on their core strengths in running their business. 3CS was also the only legal advisory company included in the 2020 Financial Times list of the top 1,000 fastest growing companies in Europe.