THIS week brings a great opportunity to celebrate some of our region’s best success stories at the North East Exporter’s Awards.
There is no doubt international trade is critical to economic growth in this region. NECC’s North East Business Barometer survey last week showed strong growth in overseas sales and orders, while domestic demand appears wobbly.
Our region’s export performance is also very good news for the UK. While the country as a whole is struggling to address its balance of payments deficit, our region consistently exports more than it imports. With statistics last month showing the North East growing its export levels at twice the national rate, this looks set to continue.
The companies that have been nominated for awards tomorrow are delivering this success for the North East and the UK and thoroughly deserve the recognition they are receiving.
I take pride in my own business’s contribution to this. Newcastle International Airport provides the North East with the global connections our businesses need to be able to compete in international markets.
An illustration of the important role transport connections have to play in fostering export success comes with the trebling of business between the North East and Australia that has occurred since Emirates began connecting us to that country via Dubai. Connections such as those provided by Emirates are crucial to this region’s economic future. However, Government policy is jeopardising the potential for airports like Newcastle to attract new routes with its misguided approach to taxation.
Air Passenger Duty is an added burden for passengers in the UK that other countries do not charge.
We therefore welcome the Government’s willingness to look at this again through a recent consultation exercise. Together with 12 other regional airports, we have taken the opportunity to propose an innovative solution which would see overall tax reduced from places with spare capacity like Newcastle, and a congestion charge applied to crowded airports in the South East.
:: David Laws, NECC vice-president and chief executive of Newcastle International Airport