Ken Skates AM, Minister for Economy and Transport

First published:
15 July 2019
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I am proud of the advances we have made as a government in creating the conditions for businesses and regions across Wales to deliver inclusive growth. The foundations we have laid through the Economic Action Plan and Well-being of Future Generations Act have created a sustainable platform for new and emerging businesses to establish themselves and prosper whilst at the same time spreading wealth across Wales and reducing inequality.

These foundations are strong but there is understandable trepidation given the current uncertainty regarding our relationship with the European Union and changes to the leadership of the UK government.

To add to the challenge, the legislative and policy landscape across the UK is complex and marbled to varying degrees under various devolution arrangements. Brexit has served to accentuate this complexity and the need for Governments to work as a collective to navigate this landscape and build more effective relationships to address economic issues has never been greater.

I welcome the draft principles on inter-governmental working published by the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. These broad principles establish a foundation upon which we can develop our relationships across UK administrations. However, significant additional progress is required if we are to collectively prepare for the challenges ahead, including economic cooperation across nations and regions, business finance, regulation, state aid and access to labour. We will also need to work together to ensure businesses are resilient and equipped to explore the opportunities which leaving the EU may present.

To date, 2 quadrilateral groups have been established with Ministerial colleagues from the UK government department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and other Devolved Administrations; one focussed on business and industry and the other on energy and climate change. In April, I published a Written Statement which provided details of the inaugural meeting on business and industry.

The meeting was positive and provided the opportunity to discuss some of these complexities and begin to develop the working relationship required to tackle the challenges we face head-on.

A follow-up quadrilateral meeting designed to advance the relationship further was planned for earlier this month has not taken place, due to diary pressures. With the October deadline fast approaching, lack of structured and effective engagement on these issues represents a fundamental risk to businesses and industry in Wales and more broadly to the devolution settlement. As such, I have written to the Secretary of State in BEIS expressing the need for Ministerial engagement as a matter of priority, calling for an early meeting after the summer recess.