When foreign investors come to Wales – they must stay in Wales.
That’s the overarching aim of innovative new proposals launched today by Welsh Conservatives.
With a firm focus on investor aftercare, the detailed policy sets out a fresh approach to boosting inward investment in Wales.
Private sector involvement and a desperate need for clear targets also form a central part of the policy’s aim to reorganise and regenerate current procedures and teams.
While there has been a recent improvement, Wales’ share of total UK inward investment stands at just four per cent. Historically, that’s significantly lower than the 15 per cent high point of the 1980s and 90s.
Between 1998 and 2008, 171 foreign-owned sites closed in Wales, with the loss of 31,000 jobs.
‘Destination Cymru’ recommendations:
- Wales must have a comprehensive aftercare programme delivered in partnership with the private sector.
- The Welsh Government must establish a private sector ‘Investment Council’ which would work with the Welsh Government Trade and Inward Investment Team to attract and develop inward investment.
- The Welsh Government must establish a clear set of ambitious targets for its inward investment operations.
‘Destination Cymru’s foreword is written by Adam Breeze – an inward investment specialist who has advised dozens of national, regional and local governments around the world and has been involved in more than a hundred inward investment projects.
The full document is available here.
Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour do not currently have a dedicated investor aftercare programme. As the key department charged with delivering foreign investment services, Welsh Conservatives believe the lack of any investor development services is a mistake.
The proposals included in ‘Destination Cymru’ would fill this gap and create committed aftercare services that can be delivered in a cost effective manner – relying on personnel and business relationships, rather than grants and funding.
Investor aftercare means looking after a company new to Wales and embedding them in the domestic economy in order to ensure long term success. Focusing on relationships, Destination Cymru outlines how we can make the most of contacts and networks which are available to the Welsh Government through the private sector.
In a reorganisation of Welsh Labour’s approach to inward investment, Welsh Conservatives would also establish a private sector arm of the Trade and Inward Investment Team; the Investment Council.
It is essential that the private sector must be fully involved with the ‘Foreign Direct Investment’ process and not simply there on an advisory basis. An Investment Council would allow this to happen.
A clear set of targets and a well-defined structure for foreign direct investment operations is also essential.
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies AM, said:
“Destination Cymru is about being clever with inward investment – prioritising investor aftercare and boosting the Welsh economy.
“If Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour are serious about making sustained and significant improvements – it is clear that much more must be done to attract foreign companies and keep them here.
“When foreign investors come to Wales – they must stay in Wales. Initial successes are pointless without a clear emphasis on supporting companies when they arrive and ensuring long-term success.
“A Welsh Conservative government would properly utilise the private sector, publish targets, and make the real changes needed to boost the Welsh economy.
“Destination Cymru is the latest in a long line of innovative and detailed Welsh Conservative policies that continue to provide constructive alternatives and a real opportunity for Labour to take this strategy forward.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Business, Nick Ramsay AM, said:
“Current levels of inward investment are just a patch on what Wales used to achieve in the 1980s and 90s. Recent improvements are long overdue but past highs remain out of touching distance.
“Something needs to change – and Destination Cymru presents a clear alternative to the way inward investment is approached in Wales.
“There are glaring gaps in Welsh Labour’s strategy and real and sustained improvement will be sadly lacking unless this policy is progressed.
“Investor aftercare – an Investment Council – clear and transparent targets; it is these proposals that can help give the Welsh economy the much-needed boost it deserves