The United Kingdom this morning signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the state of Indiana, its first-ever state level agreement, during the inaugural Global Economic Summit in Indianapolis. The MOU creates a framework to remove barriers to trade and investment, paving the way for UK and Indiana businesses to invest, export, expand and create jobs in a variety of areas such as aerospace, life sciences, and automotive.
The MOU was signed by Governor Eric Holcomb and UK Minister for International Trade Ranil Jayawardena, who attended the summit at the Indiana Convention Center.
After the signing, Jayawardena told Inside INdiana Business Reporter Wes Mills the MOU sets the intent of both parties.
“This is not the beginning of the end of our work; this is simply the end of the beginning as one of the governor’s personal heroes once said in another way, and this provides us with a clear framework from which we can go further,” he said. “The state of Indiana has already demonstrated it’s very forward leaning in a number of areas, which makes it a great partner for the United Kingdom, including, as I said earlier, in aerospace in life sciences in urban renewal, but also in sustainability.”
The British Consulate-General in Chicago says the agreement aims to improve procurement processes and strengthen academic and research ties. Additionally, the partners will hold future talks on accelerating clean tech development with a focus on electric cars and low emission technology.
“We are creating many green jobs in the United Kingdom, pioneering in offshore wind. We are the second largest producer of offshore wind. The Prime Minister has said we want to be the Saudi Arabia of offshore wind power and this it’s our intent,” said Jayawardena. “And I knew that the great state of Indiana is also a very forward leaning state in this regard, looking at the opportunities on wind and solar, and we want to work more closely together on that.”
The UK is the seventh largest export market for Indiana and buys more than $1.5 billion worth of goods and services from the state annually.
Jayawardena says the decision to leave the European Union in 2016 helped open the door for the UK to begin its own communications with other countries and, now, with individual states in the U.S.
“There are so many opportunities across the whole United States that that are already in some ways being harnessed by business, that we should help business to go even further and I am mindful. And the whole of British government is mindful. Governments don’t trade with one another. Businesses trade with one another. So our job is to create the right environment in which they can thrive.”
Bilateral trade supports an estimated 8,370 Indiana jobs, the consulate says, in addition to the 37,500 Hoosiers employed by UK subsidiaries in the state.
In the past, there has been talk of a potential nonstop flight between Indianapolis and London. Jayawardena says while that is a matter for the privately-owned airlines, an agreement such as this could influence those decisions.
“What is absolutely crucial to airlines and indeed to our nations, both in the United Kingdom and across the United States, is that we get businesses to interact more with one another to trade more with one another to invest each other’s markets,” he said. “And the more that that happens, the more that there’ll be the need for people to travel from place to place.”
The consulate says the UK hopes to signed more MOUs with additional state governments, using Indiana’s agreement as a template.