The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is promoting the area, including its assets, the leading industries and sectors flourishing here, and its state-of-the art training facilities, to countries around the globe. 

Its Chief Executive Anne-Marie Mountifield, and Board Director, Kevin George recently went on a trade mission in Washington DC with British Government representatives. At the same time Growth Hub Manager, James Ford was in Bangladesh with the Portsmouth Bangladesh Business Association (PBBA) to strengthen economic ties between the region and the South Asian country.

The LEP is part of the second UK-USA Maritime Nations Forum 2019 in Washington DC, organised by Maritime UK and HM Government. Maritime businesses from both nations will be aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, welcomed by the Royal Navy, to celebrate existing links and identify areas for further partnership and collaboration with this year’s focus on decarbonisation.

Among the UK businesses attending were shipowners, law firms, port operators, manufacturers, technical consultancies and training colleges taking part in discussion around key areas for negotiation in a future UK-US Free Trade Agreement.  Following the HMS Queen Elizabeth visit on day one, delegates visited the Port of Baltimore on day two.

Kevin George, Solent LEP Director and maritime champion said:

“The economic importance of the Solent-based maritime sector is huge due to the role that it plays as a gateway for trade with the rest of the world. With an annual contribution of over £6 billion and forecasts indicating this is set to grow at a rate of 3.1% over coming years, the Solent is at the heart of the world’s marine and maritime sector. The US UK maritime forum being held on the Queen Elizabeth Carrier here in Washington underscores the importance of the Solent on the global maritime stage and this is a great opportunity to enhance our competitiveness. This trade mission presents a vast opening to boost the export of our maritime products and services whilst attracting more investment into the Solent region.”

James Ford, Solent LEP Growth Manager was in Bangladesh as part of a trade, investment and education mission which sees the new Portsmouth Bangladeshi Business Association (PBBA) assist the twinning of Sylhet in Bangladesh with Portsmouth.  Those in attendance included University of Portsmouth, PBBA, Portsmouth International Port and Portico.  Delegates included entrepreneurs with an interest in joint venture projects and they have the opportunity to make one-to-one appointments with delegates to discuss future working relationships.

James commented: “The Bangladeshi ministries, businesses and chambers have been so welcoming. International trade and foreign investment is considered to be vital in its endeavour to become a robust economy in South Asia and promoting the Solent’s assets here is key to both regions’ economic futures.”

The seven-day mission based in Dhaka included a meeting with Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry, a visit to Sylhet to meet its Mayor for the twinning-city agreement, and a meeting with the Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and business elite. Senior Bangladeshi Government officials whom they met included representatives from the Education Ministry, the Commerce Ministry, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  As well as a visit to Chittagong Port Authority, delegates met dignitaries, government officials and business leaders from all over Bangladesh at a British High Commissioner Reception at the High Commissioner’s Residence.

The LEP has also recently welcomed a delegation from France as part of the TransManche Development Group project to enable companies in the UK, Ille et Vilaine and Brittany to develop bilateral business and to encourage cultural, educational and commercial links..

Future trade missions that the Solent LEP is taking part in, include trips to Cannes in France and India