Since then the outlook has improved, with forecasts indicating that the UK economy is now firmly on a recovery footing. On Wednesday, George Osborne, the Chancellor, set out in this year’s Budget how the British Government will act to ensure a strong and stable economy, what will be done to stimulate business activity and promote growth, and how the tax and benefits systems will be reformed to reward work and encourage personal responsibility. The UK faces a challenging environment; food prices around the world have increased by nearly 50% since the beginning of last year. Oil prices have risen 35% in just 5 months. But this Budget will ensure sustainable, private sector-led growth in the UK economy. We want this decade to be dynamic and entrepreneurial.
Foreign trade and investment is a vital part of this. The UK is already a major trading partner with Ukraine, and one of the biggest foreign investors here, having invested over £2 billion since 1992. UK-Ukraine bilateral trade is developing steadily. Over the last year, UK companies exported of goods and services worth more than £400 million. Top exports included manufactured goods, road vehicles, professional instruments, pharmaceutical products, chemicals and specialised industrial machinery. Over 100 British firms have been working here successfully for many years,and Ukrainian companies are also investing in the UK. London remains the financial centre of choice for Ukrainian companies seeking to launch IPOs or raise capital on the markets. These bilateral links strengthen both our countries economies.
The Budget introduces measures to support firms that are creating jobs and growth both in the UK and internationally: from life sciences to creative industries, professional and legal services, and manufacturing, the Government wants to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business.Regulations will be abolished to save the economy £350million. New businesses will be exempted from bureaucracy, and financial measures will be put in place to support the growth of new companies.
The Government also wishes to encourage investment in the UK, and to support new business and enterprise. The Chancellor set out on Wednesday ambitious plans to make the UK’s tax system the most competitive in the G20. Corporation tax will fall from 28 to 23 per cent over the next four years and he has committed to largely reversing plans to raise National Insurance rates. These reforms will provide the certainty and stability that businesses need to grow and invest in the UK. For foreign investors the UK has improved visa rules for entrepreneurs and investors to reward those who contribute to economic growth. And we will introduce new rules that effectively apply an ultra-competitive 5.75% rate on overseas financing income.
The UK will also invest more in our already world-class Universities, schools and colleges so that we will have a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe. £100 million will be set aside for new science centers and 40,000 new apprenticeships will be funded to support UK manufacturing.
All this will ensure that the UK will eliminate its structural deficit and place debt on a downward path over the next 5 years. Rebalancing the economy towards exports and private-sector investment is critical. These fiscal plans have been endorsed by the IMF, OECD, European Commission, ratings agencies and business organisations across the UK.
The UK economy can only grow when it is backed by foreign investment. We can only grow when we are exporting our products and services to the rest of the world, and when our companies are establishing new ventures in markets such as Ukraine. We will only grow when we are supported by strong universities and schools.
As the Chancellor said on Wednesday, it is the words Made in Britain, Created in Britain, Designed in Britain, and Invented in Britain which will drive the UK forwards.