Belfast Telegraph

Inward investment jobs drop despite a boom in projects

By David Hughes

The number of jobs related to overseas investment in the UK has dropped since the Brexit vote despite a record number of projects, official figures revealed.

A total of almost 108,000 jobs were created or made safe as a result of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2016-17, a fall of 7% on the 2015-16 figure of almost 116,000 .

There was a 2% increase in the number of projects, up from 2,213 to 2,265, including 1,053 from investors new to the UK.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the figures showed the UK remains "extremely attractive to foreign investors" a year on from the European Union referendum.

But Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the jobs figures in the annual FDI report showed Dr Fox's Department for International Trade (DIT) was a "disaster".

Some 75,226 new jobs were created, and 32,672 safeguarded in 2016-17, down from 82,650 and 33,324 respectively the previous year.

The DIT said the UK is the top destination for inward investment in Europe, with the technology, renewable energy, life sciences and creative industries all seeing an increase in the number of projects.

Dr Fox said: "Almost one year on since the EU referendum, the UK continues to attract record levels of inward investment and remains extremely attractive to foreign investors

"As an international economic department, we continue to promote the strengths of the UK as a great inward investment destination, with an open, liberal economy, world-class talent and business-friendly taxation."

The DIT said it helped to secure over 80% of the investment projects.

But Mr Farron said: "This report shows that Liam Fox's department is a disaster. If the International Trade Department cannot grow international trade, what are they actually for?

"While Liam Fox sits about in airport departure lounges of some of the world's sunniest spots, businesses back here in the UK are now seeing a Brexit squeeze which is impacting on our economy.

"This Government have no plan, no idea and no clue and this report is the latest evidence. Never has a minister risen so far and been more useless."

Meanwhile, the European Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has warned it will not be possible for Britain to enjoy all the benefits of the single market or frictionless trade with its former EU partners after Brexit.

Michel Barnier told an EU committee in Brussels that there will be "negative" consequences to Brexit, which result from the UK's decision to vote Leave in last year's referendum and not from any attempt by the EU to "punish" the UK. But he said it appeared that some of those on the British side have still not understood the EU's position and believe that they can hold onto the benefits of the single market while giving up membership.

Mr Barnier said that Brexit would create a "loser/loser situation" for the EU and UK, which would be worsened if the two sides failed to reach a deal.

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