Robin Twyman

Robin Twyman

Consul for Business and Government Affairs

Part of Partners in Prosperity

4th October 2012

Nuts: nonsense, rubbish (Oxford English Dictionary)

Here in the British Embassy’s trade team, we’re just as likely to be in downtown DC extolling the virtues of free trade and why Britain’s open for business to anyone and everyone who will listen as we are tied to our desks doing the more traditional reporting roles expected of Embassy officials.   That’s all part of the Foreign Office’s new commercial diplomacy, helping UK exports and investment. Every now and again we have to correct some misconceptions about Britain. Which is fine, because that’s what we’re here for. Yesterday was one such opportunity, when an autos industry representative told one of my colleagues that Britain doesn’t have a car industry anymore, because it’s all foreign-owned.

Right, where do I start?  I could point out that in the first quarter of 2012, the UK had its first autos trade surplus since 1976.  Or that In 2011, 1.36 million cars and 120,000 commercial vehicles were produced in the UK, of which more than 83% of the cars and 59% of the commercial vehicles were exported.   A third of Ford engines in the world are made in the UK.  Perhaps I should pick up that 2,000 new jobs in the UK have been announced by Jaguar LandRover in the last two years, 3,000 by Nissan in the last year, 700 by GM and 500 by Honda.  BMW is investing £250m in its UK operations too.  This article in FT Business’ FDI magazine last month talks about why Toyota is increasing its operation in the UK.  It’s not just mainstream autos that we do either.  We’ve got niche brands like Aston Martin, McLaren and Rolls Royce too.  And innovators like Daniel Jubb who successfully tested the hybrid rocket engine of the world’s first 1,000-mph car, the Bloodhound supersonic car , in the UK on 3 October.

The important point to make is that it doesn’t matter where the companies are headquartered.  It’s that UK makes stuff, like aeroplanes, engines, cars, trains, and it exports them (60% of UK exports are goods and manufactured products).  And that enough UK and non-UK companies think we do it so competitively that they invest even more in UK manufacturing which then provides jobs and even more capital expenditure and exports.  Plus opportunities for the small and medium-sized enterprises that make up the supply chain: there are around 2,200 component manufacturers in the UK, contributing £4 billion added value and employing around 70,000 people.

Britain doesn’t have a car industry anymore?  Nuts.  And bolts.

About Robin Twyman

Robin Twyman took up his posting as Consul for Business and Government Affairs at the UK Government Office in Seattle in January 2013. He was previously First Secretary (Trade Policy,…

Robin Twyman took up his posting as Consul for Business and Government Affairs at the UK Government Office in Seattle in January 2013. He was previously First Secretary (Trade Policy, Business Affairs and Agriculture) at the British Embassy in Washington.

Born in Canterbury, Kent, in 1968, Robin joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1987. His diplomatic career has seen him serve overseas tours in Harare, Zimbabwe (1989-1992), and Geneva, Switzerland (2001-2006), plus short overseas tours in Mozambique, Mauritius, Russia, Abu Dhabi, Israel, Jordan, DR Congo, Albania, Zambia, Qatar, Nigeria, Syria, and Yemen.

Robin’s assignments have covered a wide range of duties. In Geneva, Robin was a UK delegate to the World Trade Organisation, where his portfolio included the Doha Trade Round’s agriculture negotiations, and trade disputes. Whilst there, he was elected to serve as a chair on one of the WTO’s sub-committees. In the FCO in London, Robin has been a Foreign Office Press Officer (1999-2001), Horn of Africa desk officer, a manager for the UK’s Afghanistan Counter Narcotics programme, and headed up the UK’s South Atlantic Overseas Territories team.