BCC Director General delivers speech at Global Annual Conference

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) convened its 2024 Global Annual Conference, with Director General Shevaun Haviland delivering a keynote address focused on the theme “The Future of the Economy.” Addressing an audience of business leaders and policymakers, Haviland outlined a comprehensive plan to drive long-term economic growth and sustainability in the UK.

Haviland began by acknowledging the current political climate, with the nation poised to vote on its future leadership. “Speculation and noise have dominated Westminster,” she said, “but for business leaders, the focus remains on daily operational challenges and long-term growth.”

She emphasised the need for a stable, forward-thinking economic strategy extending beyond the typical five-year parliamentary terms. “Businesses need a plan for the next 10, 15, 20 years and beyond,” Haviland asserted. She highlighted the resilience and optimism of UK businesses despite recent economic hurdles such as Brexit, the pandemic, high energy prices, inflation, and interest rates.

Throughout her address, Haviland shared success stories from her travels, illustrating the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of UK businesses. Examples included Viskas in Wellingborough, a state-of-the-art logistics firm, and the Isle of Wight Tomato Company, a global exporter leveraging sustainable energy solutions.

Haviland unveiled the BCC’s five-point plan for the next government, crafted through extensive consultation with the Chamber Network, the newly formed Business Council, and expert advisors. This plan includes:

  1. An Industrial Strategy with Green Innovation: Haviland called for green jobs and business investments at the core of a new industrial strategy, emphasising opportunities like sustainable aviation fuel production.
  2. A Better Plan for Skills: Addressing the ongoing skills shortage, she advocated for sustained investment in skills development and policy stability to strengthen local partnerships and prepare the workforce for future demands.
  3. Business Rates Reform: She urged the government to develop a fairer, more responsive business rates system to support local growth and the future high street economy.
  4. Improving EU Relations: Highlighting the EU as the UK’s largest market, Haviland stressed the need for improved trading terms to reduce costs and bureaucratic barriers for UK businesses.
  5. An AI Champion for SMEs: Recognising the rapid technological advancements, she called for government support to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) harness AI for improved productivity and competitiveness.

Haviland also reflected on the achievements of the BCC over the past year, including the launch of the “Future of the Economy” programme and the publication of their Manifesto. This manifesto, a day-one playbook for the next government, outlines business-made policy recommendations aimed at sustainable economic growth.

“We have business-built ideas to power the economy, a network of organisations to convene and deliver, the capability of some of the world’s largest corporations, and the voice and profile of the British Chambers of Commerce,” Haviland stated. “We are ready to work in partnership with the new government to build the future of the economy.”

The BCC remains committed to ensuring that business interests are at the heart of government growth plans, advocating for a collaborative, transparent, and long-term partnership.

Read more news and exclusive features in our latest issue here.

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Media Contact
Joseph Clarke
Editor, International Trade Magazine
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920
Email: editor@intrademagazine.com

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