As Theresa May prepares to invoke Article 50 before the imminent March 2017 deadline, the UK Government are on the lookout for new economic partnerships to bolster the country’s long term financial position.
While departure from the European Union sees the country turning its back on an alliance that has run for nearly fifty years, it is, in some ways, a return to a previous early 20th century model that saw the UK more closely economically aligned with the United States and countries within the commonwealth. Perhaps the way forward is not the radical departure that some fear, provided the UK is astute in its negotiations and economic strategy going forward.
The idea of a localised trading bloc is outdated as immediate proximity is no longer a logistical necessity, and technology has mitigated the previous issues of distance and communication. In terms of ‘trading blocs’, it is also worth bearing in mind that many of the markets the UK is now looking to collaborate with operate differently. Both the USA and Australia function as federal governments, meaning that decisions on matters such as infrastructure spending are taken at a state, rather than a national level. This highlights the importance of operating within, rather than into, new international markets, collaborating with those who hold local expertise.
One of the challenges the EU has always faced is the economic incompatibility of its member states. Recent years have seen an influx of design professionals from nations within the EU to the UK. These skilled workers underpin the importance of a more global approach to leverage the talents of workers regardless of their origin.
It’s an exciting time for British businesses as long as we continue to harness local knowledge, even if where that knowledge comes from is changing.
An international outlook has allowed Grimshaw to grow from a small London practice into a global company with offices on four continents, and more than 40 nationalities represented amongst our staff. This diversity has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on our ability to work in a variety of sectors and locations, utilising local knowledge within the office.
Even as the UK looks beyond Europe for trading partners and new agreements, our continental neighbours remain important to British business for the foreseeable future. Grimshaw’s recent selection for two stations on a new branch of the Grand Paris Metro proves that ambitions remain high throughout much of Europe, pushing infrastructure improvements and place-making opportunities; and proving they are willing to continue working with UK-based practices.
It is my hope that any new trade alliances leverage the best of our current, and valued, relationships while keeping an open mind to the potential of new and future partnerships. It’s an exciting time for British businesses as long as we continue to harness local knowledge, even if where that knowledge comes from is changing.
Andrew Whalley is Grimshaw's Deputy Chairman and represents the Office of the Chairman for all international projects. Andrew works closely with Sir Nicholas Grimshaw to cultivate relationships with clients and other institutions worldwide while managing the partnership's design approach, public ...