Robina Shah, CEO and head of immigration from Optimus Law, talks about how Britain and its second city are well and truly open for business, despite the Westminster gossip and Brexit scare stories
ROBINA SHAH FROM OPTIMUS LAW DISCUSSES HOW BRITAIN AND ITS SECOND CITY ARE TRULY OPEN FOR BUSINESS
In early 2016, the UK government led by the now long-forgotten ex-prime Minister, David Cameron, warned that if Britain left the European Union, the economy would collapse. The Governor of the Bank of England warned of recession and mass unemployment. However, the direct reverse happened – so what is really happening in the UK economy and should GCC investors be taking a second glance at what’s on offer?
Fiscally, the UK’S position has improved since the Brexit vote. The economy grew by 2% in 2016 and 1.8% in 2017. The fall in Sterling has made exports cheaper and consequently, the UK export growth reached a nine-month high in December 2017 as it continued to outperform Europe’s other largest economies. UK exports grew 13% year-on-year in Q3 2017.
Foreign direct investment in the UK businesses has continued to rise and is set to eclipse $2tn for 2017. In addition, the Oflce for National Statistics reports that for Q3 2017 (a year after Brexit), the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%, down from 4.8% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975. Brexit has not stopped companies from hiring.
Britain’s robust economy and seemingly unstoppable conldence, may be thanks partly to huge levels of government investment in infrastructure, digital communications, and housing, which forms part of the country’s wider $32bn National Productivity Investment Fund.
Gulf investors will be particularly welcome in a city with major populations from the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. Over 20% of Birmingham’s residents are Muslim and 46.9% of the population are ethnic minorities. Major spoken languages include Arabic, Hindi, Tagalog, Pashto, Urdu, Polish, and Tamil; and GCC investors can easily lnd professional services companies that understand their needs on issues pertaining to business travel visas, relocation, tax and the general business environment.
We’re seeing soaring numbers of investors from the Middle East and Asia come to us for help in securing a Tier 1 Investor Visa and Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. I think this shows that Britain is well and truly open for business. We understand how important it is for people from different parts of the world to feel at ease when making their applications – and when they get to the country. Here in Birmingham, we are able to reassure Gulf investors that they’re working with legal advisors who ‘get’ their cultural needs. I know how important that is.
Making that journey to the UK and to Birmingham itself is now even easier for GCC investors – and they can do it with an airline they know well. Emirates Airline added a second A380 to its Dubai-birmingham route in 2017, increasing capacity to over 1,200 passengers every day. Some of the Gulf’s biggest lrms have already made the journey. Saudi Arabia’s largest company, the diversiled manufacturing lrm, Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), has its UK headquarters in the Birmingham suburbs.
During a visit to Birmingham, the UAE’S Sheikh Sayed Ali Hashmi, who oversees the UAE legal system, said that Birmingham’s diversity was an attractive prospect for investors in the Middle East. It’s also notable that investment in Birmingham is coming from all corners of the globe, providing Gulf investors with international opportunities from a Birmingham base. Recent examples include one of North America’s biggest engineering and construction lrms, Burn Mcdonnell, which is opening its lrst UK oflce in Birmingham in the city.