Economic recovery depends on forging global partnerships
If 2009 is remembered for recession, then 2010 must be marked by resounding recovery. Less than 12 months ago the world's political leaders met in London to rescue the global economy from a meltdown of the financial system. It is a measure of our success that Britain is now preparing for another high-level gathering: this time to discuss investment and growth with the world's business leaders. This is not to say that the shift from recession to recovery is assured.
The immediate crisis may have passed but the need for global leadership and economic co-operation is as pressing now as it was a year ago. Securing the fragile recovery must be based on the resumption of private consumption and investment, while guarding against the risks of disorderly and premature withdrawal of stimulus measures. A more balanced pattern of demand must be fostered and new drivers of global growth found. Without it, the prospect of a lost decade of low growth and high unemployment looms.
Internationally, work is still needed to redress the balance of future risks, rewards and responsibility between the global financial sector and the societies they serve. The world's faith in open markets and the merits of globalisation that were shaken by the crisis have also to be re-established. Domestically, the UK is committed, by law, to halving our deficit by 2014. The best way to do this is through growth and increasing the competitive edge of our economy by empowering new industries and establishing a skilled workforce. Attracting investment is critical. International co-operation is needed to promote innovation and develop high-growth sectors from which all can profit. Government must allow businesses the freedom to flourish.
In Britain we are committed to the openness of our economy and to cementing the UK's position as the best country in Europe to do business. A number of companies throughout the Middle East and North Africa are successfully trading in the UK, attracted by the time zone and the easy reach into Europe, across the Atlantic and around the world. To improve the business environment we are simplifying planning processes, developing new infrastructure and maintaining stable and clear regulation. Opportunities will open up in our world-class manufacturing, technology, research and development, life sciences and creative industries, supported by the UK's existing and extensive services sector.
Even during the recession we attracted overseas investment, which last year created and safeguarded more than 78,000 jobs, including a number of investment projects from the Middle East and North Africa. We have maintained our position as the best place in Europe for innovation, pharmaceuticals, ICT (information and communication technologies), financial services and creative industries - a sector that goes from film and fashion to architecture and the media. Fifteen of the world's 75 top-selling medicines were discovered or developed in Britain.
The UK has the most extensive broadband market in the G7 (Group of 7 industrialised nations), four of the world's top six universities and is already a net exporter of low carbon goods and services. And Britain now boasts the world's largest installed capacity of offshore wind electricity generation. Next week in London is a chance to share knowledge, build relationships and learn lessons from the financial crisis and recession. The focus will be on investment, innovation and industries of the future.
Gordon Brown is the prime minister of the United Kingdom
Updated: February 19, 2010 04:00 AM